This study assessed the health status of people undergoing mortgage foreclosure in the Philadelphia region to determine if there was a relationship between foreclosure and health.
Participants were recruited in partnership with a mortgage counseling agency. Participants’ health status and health care use were compared with a community sample from the 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey. The authors used publicly filed foreclosure records to assess response bias. Of the 250 people recruited, 36.7 percent met screening criteria for major depression. The foreclosure sample was significantly more likely than the community sample to not have insurance coverage (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.28; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.49, 3.48) and to not have filled a prescription because of cost in the preceding year (AOR=3.44; 95% CI=2.45, 4.83). Approximately 9 percent of the participants reported that their own or a family member’s medical condition was the primary reason they were undergoing foreclosure. More than a quarter of those in foreclosure (27.7%) stated that they owed money to medical creditors.
The authors concluded that foreclosure affects already-vulnerable populations. They suggest that public health practitioners may be able to leverage current efforts to connect homeowners with mortgage counseling agencies to improve health care access.