Aug 14, 2009

The New York Times Reports on the Cost of Gluten Free Food

On August 14, 2009, The New York Times published a great informative article, The Expense of Eating with Celiac Disease. This article not only explains about celiac disease and the high cost of gluten free food, but also mentions some cheaper options. Here are two important quotes from the article.

"That’s because the treatment for celiac does not come in the form of a pill that will be reimbursed or subsidized by an insurer. The treatment is to avoid eating products containing gluten. And gluten-free versions of products like bread, pizza and crackers are nearly three times as expensive as regular products, according to a study conducted by the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Unfortunately for celiac patients, the extra cost of a special diet is not reimbursed by health care plans. Nor do most policies pay for trips to a dietitian to receive nutritional guidance.

In Britain, by contrast, patients found to have celiac disease are prescribed gluten-free products. In Italy, sufferers are given a stipend to spend on gluten-free food."

"Finally, if you itemize your tax return and your total medical expenses for the year exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, you can write off certain expenses associated with celiac disease. You can deduct the excess cost of a gluten-free product over a comparable gluten-containing product."

It is impressive to see a major newspaper discuss the cost of gluten free food and provide cost saving tips, including the brown rice pasta and tortillas at Trader Joe's suggested by Kelly Courson, co-founder of Celiac Chicks. Below is a topic mentioned in the article to explore with your benefits department.

"Do you have a flexible spending account at work? Ask the plan administrator if you can use those flex spending dollars on the excess cost of gluten-free goods — many plans let you do this."

1 comment:

Eric said...

I think a key point here is that health insurance is relatively useless to celiacs and sufferers of wheat- and gluten-related problems (at least following the official diagnosis). It is for that reason that those of us in this community should be supporting a health care arena in which we control how our health care dollars are (or are not) spent. We don't need the same health care coverage as a diabetic or cancer patient, and shouldn't be forced into purchasing it. We'd rather save our money and use it to buy food that we can eat. I hope that, in the future, we continue to have the ability to spend our money as we see fit. As adults, we--not someone on our "behalf"--should be allowed to make this decision for ourselves.