What might happen if Medicare and Medicaid covered 30% of healthy food purchases? A team of researches from Tufts University, lead by Yujin Lee, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy modeled two different scenarios.
Scenario 1: Covered 30% of fruit and vegetable purchases.
Scenario 2: Covered 30% of fruit and vegetable purchases as well as 30% of purchases of whole grains, nuts, seafood, and plant oils.
First scenario: Would prevent about 1.93 million cases of heart disease and would reduce healthcare utilization, leading to a savings of about $40 billion.
Second scenario: Would prevent close to 3.28 million cases of heart disease as well as 120,000 cases of diabetes and lead to a savings of $100 billion.
The study authors conclude that healthful food prescriptions would be more cost-effective after 5 years than preventive drug treatments. 
Researchers admit that the models cannot prove the health and cost effects of these food incentive programs. Rather, the estimates they uncovered provide evidence that can be considered and incorporated into the design and evaluation of incentive programs at federal and state levels.
Additionally, the investigation did not evaluate political or legal feasibility, which could be considered in future research.
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