Homelessness is often thought of as a problem that is caused from lack of employment, addiction, or mental health. Have you ever thought of how physical healthcare may impact someone’s chances of becoming homeless? Bad health is a cause and also a result of homelessness.
Many Americans find themselves homeless due to poor health. Health issues can quickly turn into employment and financial problems, which can escalate to housing issues. A 2015 study found that healthcare bills made 1 million adults file for bankruptcy. Lack of health insurance makes it very difficult for homeless people to pay for healthcare. As a consequence, many homeless individuals utilize emergency rooms for healthcare. This leads to limited medical attention and can be expensive for hospitals and the government.
Unfortunately, homeless people experience health issues at a much higher rate than the general population. This is caused by increased exposure to the elements and unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, stress, disease, violence and addictive substances. When homeless people are affected by these health issues they often go without adequate medical care. Individuals may refuse to seek treatment due to lack of knowledge, lack of access to transportation, and lack of identification. Psychological limitations also exist, such as embarrassment or nervousness about filling out paperwork and self-consciousness about appearance and hygiene.
There are many ways the general population can help homeless individual’s access proper healthcare. For example, there are federally funded Health Care of the Homeless projects that provide care despite one’s ability to pay. Unfortunately, health centers like these treat less than a million out of the 3 or 4 million homeless individuals that need care. One can also get involved by advocating for Medicaid Expansion. Medicaid can help provide health coverage for individuals that are experiencing homelessness. This will also help homeless individuals find financial security and stabilized health. The expansion of Medicaid will also help to improve state budgets and lower the cost of health care. This is possible because states and hospitals will no longer have to pay for homeless individual’s emergency room visits.
One doesn’t often think of the healthcare needs of a homeless person, but it is vital that the general population does. Receiving healthcare as a homeless person can be very difficult. It is this population that needs healthcare the most. It’s important that we all strive to do our part in helping the homeless population to receive the medical attention that they need.
Humanity for the Homeless is fighting this day by day by raising funds and helping the surrounding homeless communities. Will you join us in helping our peers that are in need of help? Contact us today to find out more.