About Medical Care for the Unhoused

Health care professionals must understand the unique needs of the unhoused population in order to deliver the best medical care. Research suggests barriers to accessing care for low-income, unhoused individuals include socioeconomic status, lack of insurance, lack of ability to pay, and perceptions of being judged by the medical community. People who are unhoused typically face multiple health conditions and disengage from mainstream health care systems.

In addition, research involving New York City medical records has shown that costs for unhoused patients are higher than those for low-income patients. The extra days a patient stays in the hospital could be attributed to their reluctance to be released, which may increase the cost of their care. Among the groups studied, those with mental illness and those with a poor educational background were more likely to be high-cost users.

While government aid is crucial to helping unhoused individuals, it’s not enough. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these problems, with many people losing jobs and housing. 

Due to factors such as these, health programs and other resources are vital to meeting the needs of this population.

Medical Resources for the Unhoused Population

The medical resources available to unhoused individuals vary by state and include the following:

In New York state, the Homeless Alliance of Western New York is the lead agency for Continuum of Care (CoC) programs, which help communities develop plans for housing and address the needs of local unhoused individuals.