HealthDay News — For low-income adults, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is associated with a reduction in health care expenditures, according to a study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, MPH, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 4447 non-institutionalized adults with income below 200% of the federal poverty threshold to examine whether SNAP can reduce health care expenditures. Of the participants, 1889 were enrolled in SNAP and 2558 were not.

The researchers found that SNAP participants were younger, more likely to have public insurance or be uninsured, and more likely to be disabled than other low-income adults.

Health care expenditures were similar for those who did and did not participate in SNAP in age- and gender-adjusted models (difference, $34; 95% CI, −$1097 to $1165). SNAP correlated with lower estimated annual health care expenditures in fully-adjusted models (−$1409; 95% CI, −$2694 to −$125). Sensitivity analyses were consistent with these results, with significantly lower estimated expenditures associated with SNAP participation.

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“Encouraging SNAP enrollment among eligible adults may help reduce health care costs in the United States,” the authors write.

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Berkowitz SA, Seligman HK, Rigdon J, et al. Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) participation and health care expenditures among low-income adults [published online September 25, 2017]. JAMA Intern Med. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.4841