Medical food practice affects our practice in several ways. First, and foremost, our desire to bring the best possible care and outcomes to our patients is directly related to their ability to get necessary medical foods. Many who are not able to get medical foods are not able to follow their restricted diets, leading to poor outcomes and disease associated morbidities. Second, the amount of time and effort that our team puts into medical food coverage is burdensome. Of course, we are happy to do everything we can, but the frequent roadblocks that insurance companies place are unnecessary, time consuming, and frustrating!
The examples are endless. A family who makes just too much for Medicaid but whose private insurer won’t cover medical food so they have to pay out of pocket. A woman with PKU of childbearing years who wants to be in good metabolic control to have a heathy baby but cannot afford to pay for medical food out of pocket. An adult who “no longer needs” medical food because they aren’t a child. Medical food, including amino acid supplementation, is not “just a vitamin” or an over the counter treatment. They are prescribed, carefully titrated and life saving treatments that need to be covered universally.