Objectives: We assessed the health status of people undergoing mortgage foreclosure in the Philadelphia region to determine if there was a relationship between foreclosure and health.
Methods: 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. We used publicly filed foreclosure records to assess response bias.
Results: Of the 250 people recruited, 36.7% 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% 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.
Conclusions: Foreclosure affects already-vulnerable populations. Public health practitioners may be able to leverage current efforts to connect homeowners with mortgage counseling agencies to improve health care access.