Dr. Gary Bloch, a practicing physician at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, begins each medical history with income information.
"Treating people at low income with an income increase will have at least as big an impact on their health as any other drugs that I could prescribe for them," he
asks all his
patients what their income is and, importantly, how it is derived, along with routine questions about medical history, previous illness and any medications the patient might be taking.
"I do see poverty as a disease," Bloch
also looks for ways to assist his
patients in obtaining more income.
For Dr. Bloch
, "prescribing income" could mean determining whether a patient's illnesses meet government guidelines for provincial or federal disability supports, employment insurance or other forms of financial support.
Patients at Bloch's clinic receive assistance filling out applications and the clinic connects patients with programs such as basic financial planning.
Early results are promising.
says that "I absolutely see the improvement in my patients' health," and "for patients that we do manage to get on income supports, their lives often really turn around.