Health Care Utilization and Expenditures of Homeless Family Members Before and After Emergency Housing

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Health Care Utilization and Expenditures of Homeless Family Members Before and After Emergency Housing cover
Robert W. Seifert, MPA
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Linda Weinreb, MD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Julie M. Flahive, MS
University of Massachusetts Medical School

This objective of this research was to learn the longitudinal health service utilization and expenditures for homeless family members before and after entering an emergency shelter. Researchers compared Massachusetts emergency housing assistance data to Medicaid claims between July 2008 and June 2015 and found that emergency department visits and hospital admissions rose before shelter entry and fell gradually afterward. Visits to emergency departments by infants and children were often potentially preventable. 

The results of this study tell us that families that are going to become homeless often see increased emergency service use and expenditures several months before the families actually lose their homes. The events that cause emergency service use could be preventable with early intervention. Early intervention in families that have members with behavioral health issues before they become homelessness could help save money and improve family health.