Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Financial/health care collaborations: Good medicine

The link between financial health and physical health is well-established at this point, as this Florida Institute for Health Innovation blog post notes. At ACFCU we see it firsthand – many financial coaching clients “strongly agree” or “agree” in our intake survey that financial stress negatively affects their health. Now, we’re hoping to test that connection within the realm of health care itself.

It’s encouraging to see the financial health/physical health link not only being recognized but acted upon. Health care providers are finding innovative ways to connect vulnerable patient populations with financial programs or services that meet their needs. Howard Gleckman of the Urban Institute & Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center highlighted one example recently. He describes how two Boston-based pediatricians pulled off something near and dear to our hearts: they founded a program that helped low and moderate-income families get free tax preparation through VITA, with the free tax prep coming to them at the pediatrician’s office.

Dr. David Wood
As I’ve noted before, we greatly value our VITA partnership with Tusculum University. We see the potential for tying it in with individualized financial coaching to help families achieve greater financial health. And we’re hopeful a fledgling partnership with the Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics can become another impactful example of innovative work tying financial health and physical health.

Through Department Chairman Dr. David Wood’s vision and ACFCU Financial Coaching Specialist Adam Taylor’s leadership, we’re collaborating to effectively identify and serve families whose children are patients at the department’s clinic. We know reducing financial stress and increasing financial health can have a host of ancillary benefits and we look forward to seeing where this journey takes us.

ACFCU FInancial Coaching Specialist
Adam Taylor
The journey may yield additional innovation through leveraging VITA. Many families receive yearly financial windfalls but need guidance to reach a point at which they can use refunds to their full advantage. It may increase collaboration between ACFCU, a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution, and the social service agencies with whom Quillen pediatrics is partnering. It may help families escape the crushing burden of predatory lending. It may produce valuable research.

Whatever the outcome, we know this: It takes a village. In our financially complex society, particularly given current levels of income inequality, we believe every village needs financial experts focused on helping the most vulnerable among us. If ACFCU can be a part of changing even one family’s financial trajectory through the Quillen partnership – and we know we can – we will find that cause for celebration.

(Jeff Keeling is vice president of communications and community relations for Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union.)

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