Teaming Up To Make Housing Affordable Through Health Investments

exterior of permanent supportive housing for veterans who are homeless
This supportive housing project for veterans in Los Angeles is an example of the investments by health payers to bring down health care costs.

Health insurers in the United States are investing to reduce direct health care costs, which affect their bottom line and profit levels. Some of those investments help make housing more affordable for citizens with very low incomes.

Concerned about the rising costs of health care, health researchers have been diligently investigating the social factors that contribute to health outcomes. Research into these social determinants of health research is informing health insurance providers.

Two insurers, one private, the other non-profit, use different approaches to reduce the down stream costs of health care. The research provides a wide scope of opportunity for investment, including affordable housing, food security programs and access to health screening services.

For more read in Health Payer Intelligence: United Healthcare Invests Over $400M In Social Determinants of Health

and the Sacramento Business Journal: Poll Reveals Region’s Health Challenges Affecting Quality Of Life

The social investments of the health insurers help to make housing more affordable for low income families either directly, by investing in low cost housing, or indirectly, by lowering household expenditures on necessities such as food and health care. This is documented in two initiatives, the United Way’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) project and the Eviction Lab, which is based at Princeton University. They provide income and housing cost data at a state, county and city level.

The opportunity to connect health and housing data could be helpful to decision makers, program managers, community agencies and advocates. For example, one of the health insurers supports food security projects in Arizona. The projects contribute to better nutrition in a state where 42% of the households are ALICE (i.e. they haven’t enough income to provide for the basic necessities at Arizona costs) and 30% are rent burdened.

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