|Research from Children’s HealthWatch (CHW), one of the nation’s leading networks of pediatricians, public health researchers, and children’s health policy experts, continues to demonstrate that unaffordable and unstable housing not only causes and perpetuates health disparities among individuals, but also balloons healthcare costs for the entire country. CHW, based at Boston Medical Center, is one of the founding partners of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.
In its groundbreaking study, CHW found that unstable housing among families with children will cost the U.S. $111 billion in avoidable health and education expenditures over the next ten years.
The authors calculated the nationwide health-related costs of mothers and children who have either: 1) experienced homelessness; 2) moved two or more times; or 3) been behind on rent in the previous year. Over the next 10 years, assuming the current number of families living in unstable homes persists, the American health system will spend $76.8 billion treating mothers experiencing worse physical and mental health and $34.3 billion treating children. Such costs include more hospitalizations, medications, dental procedures, ambulance visits, mental health care services, and special education services for children.
“A stable home is like a vaccine for my patients and their families,” said Dr. Megan Sandel, practicing pediatrician and principal investigator with CHW. “It keeps them healthy now and in the future. But, the pharmacy is not fully stocked. We need investments to ensure everyone has access to the stable home vaccine.”