The first stop for Italians diagnosed with celiac disease isn’t always the supermarket. Instead, Italians, as well as residents of the United Kingdom, visit their local pharmacy to fill prescriptions for gluten-free foods.
It’s commonplace to see packages of corn pasta and gluten-free bread mixes displayed next to a pharmacy counter in Italy. Because, as it turns out, Italians with celiac receive a monthly voucher of about 100 euros (about $135). This support comes from Italy’s national health system to subsidize specific gluten-free products.
“In Italy, this food is medicine,” said a pharmacist in central Turin.
Celiac Disease Worldwide
In fact, due to the rapidly growing number of celiac cases around the world, many countries have implemented official government policies. These policies are aimed at protecting those with the disease and must eat a gluten-free diet.
It affects 1 in 100 people worldwide, with the number of people affected doubling every 15 years according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
In the United States
In the US, gluten-free food is not found at the pharmacy, however Americans with flexible spending accounts (FSAs) can sometimes use their funds to cover gluten-free food items. Items include gluten-free food, but also could include a gluten sensor, a device which tests a small sample of a food to determine if it contains traces of gluten.
Patients diagnosed with celiac disease who itemize deductions can count the extra cost of gluten-free foods as a medical expense on their tax returns. However, due to the way this deduction is set up, many people are not able to take advantage of it.
Our FEI Family Members diagnosed with celiac disease or other health conditions which require avoidance of gluten or wheat maintain consistent access to the foods they require to stay healthy.
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