21% forgo medical care due to transportation barriers: RWJF

More than one in five U.S. adults missed or skipped needed medical care in 2022 because they could not access a vehicle or public transportation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found in a new analysis

The foundation used June 2022 data from the Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey to examine transportation barriers to healthcare to estimate the share of adults who had unmet health care needs or who missed or skipped health care visits in the past 12 months because of difficulties finding transportation.

Five percent of all U.S. adults reported they missed or skipped a scheduled healthcare visit in the past 12 months due to transportation barriers. This experience was more common among Black adults (8 percent), adults with low family incomes (14 percent), and adults with public health insurance (12 percent).

Ninety-one percent of adults reported having household access to a vehicle, but this figure was lower among Black adults (81 percent), adults with low family incomes (78 percent), adults with a disability (83 percent), and adults with public health insurance (79 percent) or no health insurance coverage (83 percent).

Adults without access to a vehicle who reported living in neighborhoods with fair or poor access to public transit were significantly more likely to forgo needed health care because of difficulty finding transportation (21 percent) compared to adults who reported excellent, very good or good neighborhood access to public transit (9 percent). Public transit includes buses, subways, rails, light rails and ferries. 

"These findings add to the growing body of evidence that inequitable access to transportation perpetuates disparities in access to healthcare, highlighting the importance of transportation as a social determinant of health," the foundation noted in its report. 

"This analysis provides new evidence on transportation barriers to health care, highlighting the importance of public transit accessibility in promoting equitable access to health care for states, local governments, and other stakeholders to consider when weighing investments in public transit."

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