Hospitals are starting to invest in real estate and build their own housing units as a means of addressing homelessness and improving patient outcomes… and cutting significant healthcare costs.
Hospitals are obligated to provide care
When a patient is homeless, hospitals — which are legally prohibited from discharging patients who don’t have a safe place to go — are on the hook for keeping them in unit, often at great cost.
A month’s rent is cheaper than a night in the hospital
At Denver Health, a one-night patient stay costs the hospital $2.7k. Patients who have nowhere else to go spend on average 73 nights in unit… for a total cost of almost $200k.
Meanwhile, patients with acute conditions sometimes spend days in the ER waiting for a bed to open.
So hospitals are investing in different kinds of beds
Denver Health is partnering with Denver Housing Authority to renovate an old building into affordable senior housing, with 15 apartments designated as transitional units for homeless patients. The hospital will cover housing costs… and at $10k/year, apartments are a significant savings over prolonged hospital stays.
Zoom out: The country’s biggest managed-care provider, Kaiser Permanente, has pledged up to $200m to fight homelessness and build low-cost housing in multiple states.
And the White House is considering changes to a law that forbids hospitals from directly paying Medicaid enrollees’ rent… which could sweeten the deal for hospitals getting into the housing biz.