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Lack of transportation often leads to skipped medical care


Study shows that one-fifth of adults with no transportation skipped medical care last year

Adults who lack access to a vehicle or public transportation are significantly more likely to skip care than those who have access to public transit.

Cars: Image credit: ©Nady - stock.adobe.com

Cars: Image credit: ©Nady - stock.adobe.com

The analysis from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that 21% of U.S. adults without access to a vehicle or public transit went without needed medical care last year. These individuals were significantly more likely to skip care than those who reported neighborhood access to public transit services (9%), according to the report.

“Transportation barriers to health care disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic/Latinx adults and those with low incomes, disabilities, public health insurance coverage, residence in rural areas, and lack of household access to a vehicle,” said Laura Barrie Smith, research associate at the Urban Institute, in a statement. “These findings highlight the importance of available and accessible public transportation for access to healthcare, especially for adults who do not own vehicles.”

While 5% of all U.S. adults reported skipping health care due to transportation barriers, the experience varied significantly by race, income, and insurance status. Black adults (8%), adults with low family incomes (14%), and adults with public health insurance (12%) were all more likely to forgo needed care due to difficulty finding transportation, according to the report. Adults with a disability (17%) were more than three times as likely than adults overall to report skipping care due to transportation concerns.

Access to a vehicle also varied widely by subgroup. For all U.S. adults, 91% reported household access to a vehicle, but for Black individuals that number was 81%, for Hispanic/Latinx adults the number was 87%, and 78% of low-income individuals reported access.

“Many things influence access to health care, with lack of transportation being a major hurdle for millions of families,” said Gina R. Hijjawi, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a statement. “We see that individuals with disabilities, low-income individuals, and people of color are disproportionately impacted by limited public transit. This analysis makes clear that access to public transit is associated with improved access to health care. Policymakers should consider expanding transportation benefits in health insurance plans to improve access to healthcare.”

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