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A health crisis follows mortgage foreclosure crisis

October 21, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • People who have lost their homes have worse health.
People who have lost their homes have worse health. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

The mortgage foreclosure tragedy is not only hurting Americans' wallets, it's affecting people's health, particularly older Americans who lose their homes, according to a study released Thursday.

Researchers led by the University of Maryland performed the first study to determine the health effect from the foreclosure crisis that began with subprime lending practices in 2003. As recently as 2009, the authors note, just over 2% of all U.S. homes were in foreclosure.

The study examined data from the 2006 and 2008 Health and Retirement Study, a poll of people ages 50 and older. In 2008, people were asked about their mortgage status and whether they had fallen behind on payments, were in foreclosure or had lost their homes. The analysis showed that people who had mortgage problems were much more likely to have mental health problems as well as other health-related disadvantages, such as not being able to afford prescription medications and adequate healthy food.

Nearly one-third of the people who were mortgage-delinquent reported fair or poor health compared to 19% who were not delinquent.

"The rise in mortgage defaults may have important public health implications that could ultimately prove costly to affected individuals, employers, the healthcare system, and society," the authors wrote.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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