Health and financial well-being are intrinsically linked.
Think about it: financial insecurity is a major source of stress, and stress impacts our physical and mental health, including our decisions; poor health impacts our ability to work, or perform well at work, which can lead to financial insecurity – and you guessed it, more stress.
For millions of low- and moderate-income Americans struggling to make ends meet each day, the interplay between health and financial well-being is a vicious cycle; as if the two will never peaceably coexist.
According to research conducted for Transamerica, when asked “what concerns you most about your financial future,” one in five respondents said ‘an unexpected personal or family health crisis.’ It was the most popular answer. According to the Federal Reserve, four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would not be able to cover it; and over one-fourth of adults skipped necessary medical care in 2017 due to being unable to afford the cost.
Imagine the levels of stress and financial insecurity for these individuals or families when the imagined turns into reality – it can become toxic physically, mentally and financially.
For quite some time, researchers have pointed to improving social determinants of health – the overlapping conditions, in which we are born, live, learn, work, and play – to create a healthier population, society, and workforce.
We agree, and make a further point that access to quality and affordable financial services is as much a social determinant of health, as is access to quality and affordable health care, education, employment, housing, and food.
Financial well-being deserves a seat at the table, as a vital facet of community-wide, collaborative strategies to improve quality of life. The need has never been greater or timelier for anchor institutions such as credit unions, health care providers and public health leaders to come together, and systematically integrate financial well-being with health status.
Credit unions and the health care sector share much in common. Their business strategies have evolved to place the needs and wants of the consumer at the center of decision-making, and in many cases, they serve the same population. Therefore, the potential for accelerating progress rises if the institutions work collaboratively, rather than independently.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Creating a Collaborative, Coordinated Partnership
For more information, you can download the full brief here.
By: Gigi Hyland, Executive Director, National Credit Union Foundation and Chris Revere, MPA