Updated on: April 1, 2021

Kaiser Family Foundation Brief Highlights Ongoing Employment, Poverty Challenges

Original story posted on: March 30, 2021

More people are expected to struggle with ongoing hardships.

There continues to be considerable news focused on ongoing health disparities and inequities.

First, the Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a report titled One Year in the Pandemic: Implications of COVID-19 for the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). The report takes an in-depth look at industry data detailing how U.S. adults have coped and continue to cope with employment and income challenges.

Among the findings:

  • Roughly 47 percent of respondents reported they or someone in their household had experienced a loss of employment income, with one in five persons applying for unemployment since last March 2020;
  • Sixty-one percent of adults reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the past week;
    • A total of 27 percent used credit cards or loans to meet household spending needs
  • Over 7 percent of adults had little to no confidence in their ability to pay next month’s housing payment (whether renting or owning);
  • Eleven percent reported food insufficiency;
  • Thirty percent reported delaying medical care in the past month due to the pandemic;
  • Close to 40 percent reported symptoms of depression or anxiety; and
  • Every demographic group reported some loss of employment income during the first week of February 2021, with higher percentages reported by racial and ethnic groups:
    • 53 percent of Black respondents, 59 percent of Hispanics, 47 percent of Asians, and 42 percent of whites
    • 53 percent had children in the household
    • 26 percent were over the age of 65

The American Rescue Plan, which became law earlier this month, provides $1.9 trillion in funding to address ongoing health and economic effects of the pandemic. Some provisions offer economic support for individuals, including:

  • Direct stimulus payments to individuals;
  • An extension of federal unemployment insurance payments;
  • A child tax credit up to $300 per child per month from July through the end of the year;
  • Additional funding to address food insecurity;
  • Emergency rental assistance; and
  • Emergency housing vouchers

In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is fiercely advocating to extend the latest federal eviction moratorium due to expire at the end of this month. As of earlier this month, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget website shows RIN: 0920-ZA17, Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, pending regulatory review; the meeting date and time for review were not listed.

With ongoing COVID spikes hitting 20 percent of states especially hard, ensuring appropriate housing options for patients discharged from the hospital will continue to be a challenge. Watch out, West Virginia, Georgia, Montana, Pennsylvania, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Delaware, Hawaii, and especially Michigan (whose cases shot up by 47 percent over last week).

More people will continue to struggle with ongoing hardships. What does this mean for your health system or organization? Our Monitor Mondays listeners shared the impact for their organizations here.

Programming Note: Listen to Ellen Fink-Samnick’s live reporting of the social determinants of health (SDoH) every Monday during Monitor Mondays, 10 a.m. Eastern.

Ellen Fink-Samnick MSW, ACSW, LCSW, CCM, CRP

Ellen Fink-Samnick is an award-winning healthcare industry expert. She is the esteemed author of books, articles, white papers, and knowledge products. A subject matter expert on the Social Determinants of Health, her latest books, The Essential Guide to Interprofessional Ethics for Healthcare Case Management,  Social Determinants of Health: Case Management’s Next Frontier (with Foreword by Dr. Ronald Hirsch), and End of Life Care for Case Management are published through HCPro. She is a panelist on Monitor Mondays, frequent contributor to Talk-Ten-Tuesdays, and member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of Professional Case Management, Case Management Monthly, and RAC Monitor. Ellen also serves as the Lead for Rise Association’s Social Determinants of Health Community.

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