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Some doctors even think someone’s zip code is as important to their health as their genetic code.

That’s why Shannon McGrath was asked to fill-in a “life situation form” this spring when she turned up for her first obstetrics appointment at Kaiser Permanente in Portland. She was 36 weeks pregnant.

“When I got pregnant I was homeless,” she says. “I didn’t have a lot of structure. And so it was hard to make an appointment. I had struggles with child care for my other kids; transportation; financial struggles.”

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