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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.

Photo: CC--Seth W.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.

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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?

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4 Responses:

 
fesquet
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said this on
09 Aug 2012 6:48:06 AM PDT
In France, the french NHS pay up to 45€/month. This is peanuts if we take into account the prices of gluten-free products (a 250gr slice of gluten-free bread is about 4,5€, compared to about 0,5-0,8€ for a french baguette).
As gluten-free diet is the only cure for celiac disease, yes... it is normal the healthcare system pays for it, as it pays for insulin and other remedies. All in all, health care is only a matter of choice for a country; either it is a developped country, with all the standards or it is a non developped country with very low standard of lives. We pay taxes for these purposes (health, education etc).

 
England is pathetic
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said this on
09 Aug 2012 1:07:39 PM PDT
In England the prescriptions are being cut down to just bread and flour. Really pathetic country who couldn't careless about Coeliac's . The restaurants lie about being gluten-free, the supermarkets are always recalling gluten-free products because they have gluten them. It almost feels like everyone's against Coeliac's if you look on some websites in the UK. I wish I could snap my fingers and the whole of UK became Coeliac's as that's the only way it would be taken seriously, unfortunately.

 
ACurtis
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said this on
14 Aug 2012 2:10:42 PM PDT
I can see the argument for the goverment helping celiac patients with their food purchases, since not eating gluten is the only way they can stay healthy. However. That being said, then you are being watched by Big Brother (gov't), Big Ag (the food corporations and big supermarket chains), health insurance companies, as well as pharma corporations, all of which will have a say in what you can eat, how much you can eat, how healthy that food will be--because as we all know, processed and refined food is worse for the body's health, glycemic-index, etc., than organic, whole food, unprocessed foods. I would very much prefer myself to buy all of my own food and leave all of these entities OUT of my food purchasing decisions. They have absolutely NO RIGHT to be there, tampering in any way, with what I wish to eat (provided it's gluten free) and what I want to eat (organic vs industrial man made food products).

I agree with England; we need to completely kick gluten out of the entire feed chain, as it is now becoming very apparent that gluten is bad for anyone to consume, not just those with celiac or gluten intolerance. Then again, all of the systems need to be dismantled and started anew, with better and healthier food choices across the board.

 
Alexa
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said this on
16 Aug 2012 12:20:28 AM PDT
Hello! This is a great idea. I'm from ROMANIA, UE but in my country I don't have any aid from medical insurance or another institute of Romanian State.

In Romania, I believe it is urgently necessary to learn about celiac disease. There are very few celiac disease specialists here. I believe the International Institute of Medicine must take action to inform the Romanian Government.

Please don't forget: celiac disease is a handicap.
High price of gluten-free food contributes directly to malnutrition, and combined with malabsorbtion, generates bad quality of life.

Please help, in Romania we don't have it right.




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Hi Jennifer, This thread might have some information that would help you. Your doctors are pretty lame IMHO. Perhaps you can find a celiac group in your area that has local meetings for support. They might also suggest a different doctor who knows how to treat celiac patients.

All the above posts are full of good advice. What I'd like to add is, if you have coeliac disease and continue to eat gluten, you run the risk of other autoimmune diseases in the future as well as osteoporosis, malnutrition and even cancer, so even if you had no symptoms at the beginning, and may also not have any symptoms if you eat gluten (not all coeliacs do), the damage is still being done to your gut and the rest of your body, so please be aware of this.

You could possibly try calling the places in Texas and Chicago to see if they can refer you somewhere that does accept your insurance. Oh good luck to you!

Hi Jennifer and welcome CyclingLady has given you some good advice above. You want certainty and that's entirely understandable. Go back to your doctors and explain that you need to know a little more and hopefully they will engage positively with you. If they don't, then do pursue a second opinion. I just wanted to address your last paragraph quoted above. The problem with celiac, or in my case non celiac gluten sensitivity, is that it presents or doesn't present in so many different ways. It can do hidden damage which may take many years to become apparent. It can impact in ways which are incredibly difficult to recognise or isolate. I am 'lucky' in that the way that gluten impacts on me is far worse than any mental or social isolation brought upon by the diet, so motivation is easy for me, even without the certainty of a celiac diagnosis, there really is no alternative, I don't think I'd last long on a gluten diet now. But I can well understand how difficult it may be to stay honest on the diet if you don't have any symptoms to deal with. The diet can be isolating, there does become a distance between you and 'normal' people. Who would want to deal with all that if they didn't have to? If you aren't satisfied with your doctors responses and choose to go back onto gluten I suggest you find another doctor and go back into the diagnostic process and properly exclude celiac, including a scope. Otherwise you could be taking a big risk with yr long term health. You may find that this process supplies you with an answer as if your diagnosis was correct your response to the reintroduction of gluten may surprise you, or not of course! best of luck!

There is currently not any enzymes you take that will get rid of gluten, they are working on a promising one to reduce symptoms but all others out there right now are a bust and will not help you much if it all with gluten exposure, Celiac is a auto immune disease, your reacting to the proteins of gluten and it is attacking them and your own body. I do suggest a digestive enzyme if you have food issues in general to help break them down. But this will not fix gluten exposure, reduce damage from gluten, or make gluten eating safe by any means. These current ones on the market are FAD ones target at healthy people and helping them with general digesting of gluten proteins but will not help you if you have celiacs to eliminate gluten reaction symptoms.