Boston Medical Center’s approaches family health through antipoverty programming

The latest issue of Health Affairs describes the implementation of a “medical-financial partnership” program called StreetCred at Boston Medical Center (BMC) as an example of an antipoverty strategy as a path to child and family health. At BMC, families are routinely screened for social determinants of health like employment status and housing stability. The BMC team is responding to specific needs, like siting a tax clinic in the waiting room to provide free support in securing all available tax credits, as well as broader wealth and asset building programs. For instance, the hospital offers financial literacy programming, and is piloting a matched savings program with financial mentoring. The high share of publicly insured patients is a financial challenge for the hospital, although philanthropic dollars help fill gaps. “Money is the core determinant of health,” says the program’s executive director. “You can think of it as the determinant of the social determinants of health.”