Homeless Health Care Study

A new study released by the South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless (SCCH) and United Way of the Midlands reveals that people who are homeless in South Carolina consumed more than $1 billion in health care between 2010 and 2012. The study was done by matching client data from the state Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) with Medicaid and hospital data. The report reveals factors contributing to the high cost of homelessness, including the insurance coverage gap between Medicaid and the Health Insurance Marketplace; showing that about one-third ($342 million) of all charges were billed to individuals without insurance.

Single men in particular face coverage challenges, as they are less likely to be eligible for Medicaid. The findings show that 18 percent of men ages 35-44 were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to a 54 percent enrollment rate for women the same age.

The study also shows that just 5 percent of the homeless population accumulated nearly half (48 percent) of all Medicaid charges.

“This is consistent with what is happening in other states,” said Anita Floyd, Senior Vice President of Community Impact at United Way and past chair of the SCCH. “People who lack stable and safe housing have poor health and often rely on acute care services. They face more barriers to accessing health care and are less likely to receive important preventive services.”

“Housing individuals and families who are homeless improves health and reduces health care costs,” said Joey Smoak, current chair of SCCH. “It makes sense to balance resources between acute treatment and stable housing.”

Data analysis for this study was conducted by the Health Demographics Office at Revenue and Fiscal Affairs.

Click here to view the full report

Local Contacts:

Upstate: Bruce Forbes, Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources, Inc. | 864-527-8990

Midlands: Julie Ann Avin, Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc. | 803-786-1844

Myrtle Beach/Eastern Carolina: Joey Smoak, Eastern Carolina Homeless Organization | 843-213-1798

Lowcountry: Anthony Haro, Lowcountry Homeless Coalition | 843-737-8370




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