Foreclosure may be hazardous to your health

Studies find link between foreclosures and stress-related health issues. Should health care be part of mortgage negotiations?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Oct 3, 2011 1:20PM

© Tetra Images/SuperstockWe know that foreclosures are bad for the health of a community. New research indicates they may be bad for the health of individuals as well.


Considering that economic woes can be very stressful that the poor health of a wage earner is often the reason a family's home goes into foreclosure, we could guess that there would be a correlation between health problems and foreclosures.

Janet Currie of Princeton University and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University looked at foreclosures and health in Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey, four states with a high rate of foreclosure.


"You see foreclosures having a general effect on the neighborhood," Currie told The Wall Street Journal. "Everybody's stressed out. There is a connection between people's economic well-being and their physical well-being."


In a separate study in 2008 of 250 people undergoing foreclosure, Craig E. Pollack of Johns Hopkins University and Julia F. Lynch of the University of Pennsylvania found that 32% of the study subjects missed doctor's appointments and 48% didn't fill prescriptions. More than a third reported symptoms of major depression.

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Pollack and Lynch wrote in an op-ed piece in Sunday's New York Times:

Foreclosure is not just a metaphorical epidemic, but a bona fide public-health crisis. When breadwinners become ill, they miss work, lose their jobs, face daunting medical bills — and have trouble making mortgage payments as a result.

But that is only part of the story. A growing body of research shows that foreclosure itself harms the health of families and communities.

Currie and Tekin published their survey results in the National Bureau of Economic Research. They found that every additional 100 foreclosures brought:

  • A 7.2% increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for hypertension.
  • An 8.1% increase in diabetes among people 20 to 49.
  • 12% more visits related to anxiety among people 20 to 49.
  • 39% more visits for suicide attempts among people 20 to 49.

The researchers didn't find any increase in cancer or in elective surgeries in areas with more foreclosures, indicating that stress-related illnesses were the most likely result of increased foreclosures.

Neither study proved that foreclosures caused the health problems. People facing health problems often run into financial problems, and financial problems short of foreclosure also lead to stress and stress-related illnesses.

In their op-ed piece, Pollack and Lynch argued that solutions to the mortgage foreclosure crisis should include help with health issues. They write:

For one thing, the settlement negotiations with the financial services industry over mortgage fraud and abuse should include money for health care. Millions of Americans are locked into mortgages they can’t afford. If we can’t help them stay in their homes, the least we can do is help them stay alive.
Nov 12, 2011 3:51AM
It all boils down to big pocket politicians. They do not care that they have allowed a corporate dictatorship to take over the country. 
Don't tell me that it was simply the Bushes or this party or that party in office. The legalized graft goes way back. To get elected, it takes $$$$$. How do we stop this insanity? 
Oct 6, 2011 2:37PM

The Forseclosure mess was caused by Wall Street and the Bush administration


Too much money too many non credit worthy people getting home loans. Wall street got bailed out, the Republicans saw to that.


Obama has tried to do everything to help the real people affected but he has been blocked at every turn by Repiglicans and tea baggers


Vote them out

Oct 4, 2011 5:35AM
Terrified, i do have a job and i feel horrible about your situation. But is your stress from your house or the cancer and ms?  My point was that the stress of whats happening in our economy to housing, is not going to alter other illness from stress. Even if your lost your home, you will still have the cancer and i have a bigger grief that youmight not be getting the care you deserve when we give free medical to illegals. Truly sorry for your cicumstances and i dont have it easy because i have a job.. My wife and i also did a modification and it was because of Obama that my house was saved. We hired a lawyer though i did not handle myself. Stress causes illness true. However, half of the houses in foreclosure were taken on by people that couldnt afford homes and this is why the hedgefunds got in trouble and we had to bail banks out. I hope you heel well and i wish you all the luck with your home.
Oct 4, 2011 4:45AM
JoeyC, I take it you still have a job.  I have MS and Cancer 4 time survivor and now being taken down by a bank), lost my job, driving a 1994 vehicle and am not looking for a handout.  I'm sure there are many like me.  I have applied for modification and Chase raised my monthly payment from 735 to 955 per month.  I am on disability, have worked since I was 16 years old (I guess 1100 month is too much) and am nearing 60.  This is my home, hoped to be the last place I ever lived and am now looking at being homeless.  My main concern is my service would take a great deal of stress off of me if you would offer to take him.  He is the only reason I get out of bed in the morning.  I did everything right, or thought so.  Gone through savings, sold car, so no payments.  I take care of this property, so not affecting the value of the other foreclosures on my block.  I have not been out for drinks or dinner in over 1 1/2 years.  I would kill for a Big Mac, but then I would have to give up one of my medications for the month.  No stress here!!!
Oct 4, 2011 4:28AM
As stressfull as life is for some people , and as a healthcare professional, you are really looking for something to talk about here. This is a comment a fifth grader would make.  Stress, in general, is not healthy for anyone but saying there is a correlation between forclosures and  health is absolutley comical and you probably will see this talked about on Anderson Cooper's 360 ridiculist or by Bill Maher because its that silly. Is this another scam to give out more free handouts than we already do? Are you looking for a lawyer to say forclosures cause stress call for a free consult so we can sue for your stress? cmon man. Please be real. This is up for one of the stupidest topics of the year. Definitley in top 10 if you read the web articles like i do. WOW is all i can say. LOL
Oct 4, 2011 4:12AM
Again, "Your damn right a foreclosure will effect your health and well being." --- But, it will also effect your entire neighborhood - by lowering the the property values of everyone in that neighborhood ! ! !   
Oct 4, 2011 3:16AM

No it's not bad for you health as you now have one less obligation to fulfill that you promised to pay.  Sure you will feel a bit like trash for getting out of your obligation, but not to worry; the feeling will pass and you will have more money in your pocket at the end of the day.Open-mouthed


What's bad for your health is continuing to throw your money away in the bank.  The banks, in general, provide no incentive to save money for times like we are all experiencing and continue to come with more ways to get money out of its customers.  Yet the banks have no shame in using depositors' money to invest and make more for themselves.


I'm thinking of BoA (Bank of Atrocity)


Just sayin.....Nerd

Oct 4, 2011 2:59AM
Yes tunny it will, but sometimes it's the best course of action.
Oct 4, 2011 2:46AM
You're right about the ineptitude of Obama. But reconsider bankruptcy.It's a large black hole that follows you for 10 years.
Oct 4, 2011 1:59AM
Everybody in the country that is upside down on their house, needs to simply quit paying the mortgage. I told my bank "no loan modification, no payments". They eventually foreclosed, and i lived in it for 2 years. Saved all the money, and now much better off w/ the cash, and not paying on something that is worth less than i owe. As long as they will destroy your credit also, quit paying all of your debts. File BK....Time to start spanking these filthy greedy banksters. And time to start marching in Washington to stop anymore tax payer bailouts. Let em all crash and burn. La Revolution !!!!!!
Oct 3, 2011 11:26PM
You see mortgage rates at 3.6% fixed, try and get one.  Even with excellent credit you cannot refinance your mortgage.  It has become a game of sorts between our federal government politicians and lending companies.  Every time you apply your credit gets dinged and it goes down just for you trying to help yourself.  Every corner is covered by someone, somewhere, and the average american citizen should start becoming more aware that these people only mean you harm not any good for sure.  I have given up on every corporation, government official (which my vote allowed them to be called this) and the banking industry is only concerned about their CEOs bonuses, so from some point back a few months ago I realized what the US government politicians are doing and they are just screwing the average middle class american and it is time we banned together and revolt against what is going on today through no fault of our own, the fault lies at the feet of the Obama administration no matter who came before, they have been in charge long enough and should have figured this out by now.  I believe it is being done this way so that the public will stay confused while they rape, pillage and do what all communist do to their population. 
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