Money as Medicine: Rethinking Health Beyond the Clinic

Eric Reinhart's latest piece in NEJM challenges the clinical focus of American healthcare, advocating for cash transfers and social welfare programs as vital tools to combat health inequities exacerbated by poverty.


The American way of approaching health through an individualistic, biomedical paradigm leads to the overemphasizing of clinical perspectives and obscures the social, political, and economic determinants of health, such as poverty. Eric Reinhart refers to this idea as “clinicism” in his new article “Money as Medicine,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Reinhart highlights the significant positive impact that cash transfers and expanded child tax credits had during the COVID-19 pandemic in reducing poverty. This result supports the argument that expanding these programs can have great potential in fighting against mental and physical health needs. He argues for addressing the interwoven facets of health, safety, and economic policy and writes:

“Many studies have shown that cash-transfer programs lead to substantial reductions in homicide, assault, intimate partner violence, property crimes, recidivism, and overdose deaths. And a growing body of research demonstrates that such programs can generate major health gains, mental health improvements (sometimes greater than those achieved by professional mental health services), substantial reductions in both childhood and adult mortality and education benefits.”

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