How Can We Better Integrate Health and Wealth-Building Services?

How are physical and mental health linked to financial well-being? As Prosperity Now’s understanding of this relationship grows deeper, we’re finding that there is no singular way it plays out—rather, there are multiple channels that demand our attention. It follows that, to fix problems associated with financial security and health, it’s becoming increasingly urgent to act across different sectors. 

We know that even people with insurance can face crushing medical debt, with disastrous consequences for their financial lives. This is true in the converse as well: a financial crisis in middle age may lead to an early death, and growing up in poverty increases risk of a host of poor health outcomes. So how do we tackle these problems, especially when they are so intricately linked with other social determinants of health, such as community development, housing and education? This September at the 2018 Prosperity Summit, we’ll build off our work with health and financial capability practitioners across the country to explore solutions.

An important step to uncovering best practices is for financial capability practitioners and health providers to form partnerships. Over the past several months, we’ve fostered these connections by hosting our Medical Financial Partnership Learning Community through a listserv and bimonthly webinars. Practitioners in this network learn from their peers’ experiences, obtain valuable resources and encourage the growth of partnerships that address both health and financial well-being.

We’ll broaden this focus during a three-hour, in-depth Clinic at this September’s Prosperity Summit, titled “Envisioning the Future of the Health-Wealth Connection.” During the Clinic, we’ll roll up our sleeves to work through how to go beyond collaborations between health and financial capability practitioners, and explore how we can work in concert across the many sectors that influence our financial, physical and mental health.

For example, we know that housing, and the circumstances around housing, influence health outcomes in many ways. We also know that housing and financial well-being are deeply linked: unaffordable housing creates barriers to financial stability and homeownership is the primary tool for building wealth. Given these overlaps, what policy and programmatic interventions could influence outcomes? How can we work with insurance providers, public health agencies, housing agencies, community development financial institutions, educational systems and an endless list of others, to advance a holistic view of health? How do we work across sectors to create a system that considers financial well-being an integral part of what it means to be healthy?

Whatever “sector” you come from—whether it’s asset building, basic needs services, housing, disability services or other services for low- and moderate-income people—we invite you to join this conversation. We have an opportunity to break down knowledge siloes and brainstorm innovations that can change not only the services we provide and the policies that enable them, but how we think about our fields of work.

To be a part of this exciting clinic, don’t forget to register for the 2018 Prosperity Summit. You can also join the conversation by signing up for our Medical Financial Partnership Network.

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