The Relationship Between Chronic Illnesses in the United States and Being Able to Afford Food and Medication

2014 What Everyone Ought to Know: The relationship between Chronic Illnesses in the United States and being able to afford Food and Medication

If you are a health care provider or health care consumer get empowered to facilitate change in your home or community to reverse this barrier to effective care.


Here’s the scoop: The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Smart Brief (2014) inspired this blog and my desire to share this information and some possible solutions.

1 out of 3 individuals in the United States who have chronic disease(s), experience the added stress of choosing between buying food, or buying their prescribed medications. According to the experts cited in the Reuters Health (2014) article, people tended to choose food over their medications.

The barrier of not having enough resources to buy either food, and or medication, creates a challenge for all of us.  How can we effectively remove this barrier to providing competent care?  It negatively impacts U.S. health optimization and on quality of life issues for individuals/families, and their community.

The struggle for many to either  afford food and/or medication was  brought to light through  data collected by the National Health Interview Survey (2011), and a new study from Brigham and Women’s in Boston, MA. The number of Americans completing the survey (2011) was reported to be considered a snapshot of the population as a whole, and numbered greater than 10,000 individuals over the age of 20.

Here is a list of the chronic conditions in the U.S. population having difficulty affording food and or prescribed medication(s) according to researchers:

  • Cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Psychiatric Illnesses
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Asthma

Researchers also reported finding care disparities among Hispanic and African- American individuals. Additionally, it is 58% more likely that Hispanic or African-Americans with chronic conditions, have difficulty choosing between buying food and buying medication.

Despite the availability of community resources, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (known as WIC), or  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  (SNAP), people struggling to pay for food, med or both were 60% less likely to participate in these special programs.

What can be done?
Provider and patient/families may communicate and work together to:

  • Co-create a comprehensive plan of care using a patient/family centered approach
  • Take time to communicate by asking or telling, whether or not the prescribed care plan is affordable and manageable to patient/family.
  • Offer patients and their families evidence-based interventions following peer consensus and  or national guidelines ,
  • Offer patient’s/families complementary alternative therapies and online resources when appropriate and available, to balance mind, body and spirit in order to achieve optimal wellness.
  • Identify care barriers and facilitate patient and family engagement and active participation in resolving barriers to care.
  • Monitor adherence and self-management and meaningful use of information, which is a key component of competent caring
  • Continuously communicate using all available resources and   re-evaluate plans that do not yield intended  outcomes .
  • It is a privilege to care and serve patients and families and share in the joy of reaching goals of care

Patient responsibilities include, the right to be empowered to communicate your needs. It is a privilege to care for you! You are the most important person on the team.

Print | Sitemap
© Abigail L. DeLisa LLC