transcript The Intersection of Health and Homelessness

The Intersection of Health and Homelessness Video Transcript

How does homelessness impact individual health?

Rates of chronic medical illness are high among homeless adults.

People experiencing homelessness are more likely to experience complication from the illness due to long-term exposure to adverse environments.

Limited education, mental illness, substance use, and distrust can affect the ability to respond appropriately to adverse conditions and manage medical problems, leading to advanced disease.

Studies have found people experiencing homelessness have increased risk of mortality.

Local data reflects homeless adults in Boston:

  • Displayed medical symptoms 15-20 years older than their actual age, and 
  • Had mortality rates 4.5 to 9 times that of the general population in Massachusetts

Current chronically homeless MassHealth members have an average of 6.5 chronic conditions. 63% of these members have more than 4 chronic conditions.

How does homelessness impact the healthcare system?

Due to the increased health issues among people experiencing homelessness, homelessness results in high costs to the healthcare system.

One study conducted with homeless individuals with serious mental illness in New York City showed an average annual service use cost of $40,500 per person.

A review of MassHealth utilization by 618 chronically homeless members found over $16 million in health care costs, or over $26,000 per member.

The same review showed:

  • Chronically homeless members with an ER visit had an average of 8.4 visits
  • Chronically homeless members with an inpatient admission had an average of 2.8 inpatient admissions

What racial disparities are seen at the intersection of health and homelessness?

Historically marginalized groups, particularly Black or African American and Indigenous people, experience homelessness at higher rates due to long-standing historical and structural racism.

People of color are also far more likely to lack health insurance. About 30 million people are uninsured, with about half being people of color.

People with mental health disabilities are vastly overrepresented in the population of people who experience homelessness. While the rate of serious mental illness may not vary by race, studies show African Americans have more difficulty accessing treatment.

How does housing people experiencing homelessness impact the healthcare system?

Studies have shown a significant decline in expensive healthcare interventions when a formerly homeless individual receives a housing intervention.

A Rand study of 890 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles showed a 76% decrease in inpatient days as a result of supportive housing.

Not only does homelessness have a traumatic impact on the individual, but a costly impact to the healthcare system as well.

Thank you for joining the efforts to prevent and end homelessness