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Does the British Health Service Really Spend $26 on Each Gluten-free Pizza?
Celiac.com 08/08/2012 - In the UK, people with celiac disease get their gluten-free food subsidized by the government as part of their national health care. This includes items like gluten-free pizzas.
This practice works in much the same way that insurance companies in America cover drug prescriptions for their members. Those members with a doctor's prescription pay a reduced cost or no cost at all on certain items. In the UK, everyone is insured by the National Health Service (NHS). There, people with celiac disease and certain other conditions get prescriptions that allow them to obtain gluten-free food at a reduced cost.
In a recent story, BBC news claims that, as part of this service, the NHS is spending £17 (about $26) on each gluten-free pizza it supplies. That amount would equal four times the original base price of the pizza, since they originally cost less than £4.50 (about $6) each.
According to the BBC, once manufacturing, handling and delivery fees were added, the bill for the NHS had risen to £34 (over fifty bucks) for two pizzas.
Without acknowledging the actual cost per pizza, Stuart Lakin, head of medicines management at NHS Rotherham, said that the NHS was making efforts to minimize wholesaler delivery charges on the pizzas by switching patients from brands that attract additional charges. He added that costs for all gluten-free products was down from £274,611 in 2009/10 to just £177,153 in 2011/12.
Moreover, he noted, only patients with clinically diagnosed celiac disease are eligible for prescriptions for gluten-free products.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley pointed out that prescriptions encouraged celiac sufferers to more strictly follow gluten-free diets, but admitted that the practice is ‘under ongoing review.'
What do you think? Should gluten-free food be treated like medicine for people with celiac disease, and be covered under insurance plans like prescription drugs?
Is $26 dollars too much to pay for a gluten-free pizza?
Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
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