Text reads Supporting Sustainable and Compassionate Solutions Field Workers at Njoro, Kenya - Photo Credit: Petr Kosina/CIMMYT

Recommendations for Effective Philanthropy.


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Center for Effective Philanthropy

Association of Small Foundations

National Council of Nonprofits

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Healthcare for Marginalized Americans


Sidestepping the healthcare needs of marginalized Americans is not only inhumane but poor economics. The costs of emergency visits are often sited as a case for support but other stressors to the healthcare system often remain unmentioned. For instance, school absenteeism by both teachers and students due to illnesses reduces the benefits of investment capital allocated toward public education.

Short now and pay later. Limiting access to interventions often compounds existing conditions and increases future costs. Shorting vulnerable employees of needed and deserved paid sick days results in prolonged recovery and diminished productivity while on the job. Denying pregnant women without means access to adequate pre and post-natal health care can lead to a host of complications for the newborn and the mother. Premature release of acute psychiatric patients who can’t afford hospital costs impacts crime rates and increases the likelihood of re-admittance.

Well-planned substantial government investments in preventive medicine could significantly reduce the long-term costs of treating the underserved. Education and training on topics related to sanitation, safe sex, other areas of self-care, fitness and diet is a sound systemic approach for addressing stressors placed on our healthcare system. For example, providing strength training to older adults increases bone density and muscle mass. Prolonged hospital visits as a consequence of falling will be reduced and the percentage of elders maintaining independent living will be increased.

The arguments presented for providing marginalized members of society with better healthcare benefits are admittedly simplistic, particularly considering the plethora of economic research available. Nonetheless, factoring the costs of providing adequate healthcare treatment for Americans of lesser means is worthy of far greater public attention. Regardless of the complexity of cost/benefit economic calculations, it is safe to assert that investing in preventive medicine will cost less than the ongoing government expenditures in healthcare projected for those not being optimally served.

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