Finances and Health: A Survey of Clarifi Financial Counseling Clients

This brief examines the characteristics of credit counseling clients who experienced problems paying for their medications and analyzes which factors affect clients’ ability to pay for prescriptions. The data used in this brief were collected by Clarifi, a leading nonprofit financial counseling provider that serves about 15,000 Philadelphia-area residents each year. In the summer of 2016, Clarifi surveyed a sample of its non-housing counseling clients to document their credit status and medication use.

Background: Over the past decade, a number of studies have explored how household finances affect individual health outcomes. Medication adherence is a common subject of these studies, as prescription drugs are both potential stressors for already stretched budgets and key elements of successful treatment for many conditions. Even in households that have insurance coverage for prescription drugs, the co-pays required by many insurance plans may be difficult for households to manage, and for households without insurance, prescription drug costs may be prohibitive. But failing to fill a prescription or quitting a medication regimen early can  lead to worse overall health in the long run—when patients fail to take medications as directed, their risk of hospitalization increases and their health care costs generally go up (Viswanathan et al. 2012; Roter et al. 1998). Because they may determine the ability to afford medications, then, household finances may also be a determinant of clients’ overall health.

Thus, interventions that support positive financial management behaviors may, in turn, improve individuals’ health. The first step in developing such interventions is understanding the characteristics and needs of those who would benefit from them.

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Webinar: CFS presents “Strategies for Creating a More Accessible and Inclusive Financial Coaching Program”

Please join the Center for Financial Security for a webinar to discuss a recent case study project conducted by CFS and supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. CFS interviewed financial coaching organizations from across the U.S. about their strategies for making their programs more inclusive and accessible to the communities they serve.

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My Classroom Economy Evaluation Results Now Available

The Center for Financial Security recently completed an evaluation of My Classroom Economy (MCE), an innovative approach to financial education. In contrast to more traditional financial education programs based around lesson plans, MCE is experiential. Teachers establish a classroom-based economy that integrates into the school day as a classroom management system. Research suggests that this type of experiential approach is a promising teaching strategy, with the added benefit of minimizing time away from other classroom activities.

During the 2015-2016 school year, 24 elementary schools in the School District of Palm Beach County, FL participated in the evaluation. Students in MCE classrooms show consistent gains in financial knowledge, budgeting, financial socialization, and economic experience after 10 weeks. These effects range in size but are all statistically significant and positive. Overall, the results of this study are encouraging and highlight the promise of experiential learning programs like MCE for elementary school–age students.

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Presentation slides from the September 21, 2016 webinar are available to view.

A supplementary guide discusses the Center’s development of the survey measures used in the evaluation.

The evaluation was performed under contract TOS-14F-0028 for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

Center for Financial Security and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Finances Research Workshop

rwjf-hss-dark-greenThe intersection of health and finance is an increasingly linked area of study that continues to gain traction in research and policy. Collaboration and discussion across disciplines and sectors of health and financial well-being are fundamental to the progress of these fields.

On June 1, 2016, the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin‐Madison, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hosted a Health and Finances Research Workshop to convene faculty and researchers across UW-Madison and the Center for Financial Security and related centers on campus to explore existing research and to foster future research ideas. CFS initiated this effort to discover innovative research opportunities as well as nurture this growing community of scholars committed to building the field of health and finance research.  

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