Earlier on Beyond Boulders, we spotlighted a JAMA editorial on the Housing First approach to chronic homelessness written by Schweitzer Fellows for Life Saul J. Weiner, MD and Stefan Kertesz, MD, MSc (click here for that post).

Kertesz–an Assistant Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine–now tackles homelessness in his own backyard as the coauthor of a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, “Rising Inability to Obtain Needed Health Care Among Homeless Persons in Birmingham, Alabama (1995–2005).” You can find the study here.

In light of financial strains to the health care safety net many homeless persons depend on, Kertesz and his co-authors set out to quantify “changes in the proportion of homeless persons reporting unmet need for health care in Birmingham, Alabama, comparing two periods, 1995 and 2005.”

Their findings?

Unmet need for health care was more common in 2005 (54%) than in 1995 (32%) (p<0.0001), especially for non-Blacks (64%) and females (65%) . . . Among persons reporting unmet need (87 of 161 in 2005; 52 of 161 in 1995), financial barriers were more commonly cited in 2005 (67% of 87) than in 1995 (42% of 52) (p=0.01).

It’s uncertain as of yet whether this rise in unmet health-care needs represents a national trend — but we’re betting Kertesz will lead the way in finding out.