Should someone have to lie to get care? For millions of uninsured Americans, finding a way to receive health care is a challenge. In my practice, I’ve been seeing more and more of the following:
“Where have you been living lately?” I ask my third patient of the morning, a heavy-set, forty-nine-year-old man with dark, weathered skin and rough hands.
“I’ve been staying with my friend,” comes the casual reply
“How long have you been staying there?” I continue.
“You know, for a while.” His tone is a bit guarded.
“How long is ‘a while’?” I am wary now.
“You know, a bit of time.” I can see that I’m making him uncomfortable.
“A month, six months?” I persist. “A year, two years?”
He capitulates. “Maybe a year or two.”
I sigh inwardly. Instead of starting my conversation with “What seems to be the matter today,” I am vetting his housing status. For eight years now, my clinical practice has been exclusively with the homeless of Cincinnati, and despite our program’s generous definition of “homeless,” this man does not qualify for our …