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Transportation Still a Stumbling Block on Road to Care, Our Research Finds

The Affordable Care Act helps children from low-income families get health care, and that’s a good thing. But some of those children still have trouble seeing a doctor – because their families lack transportation. That’s the conclusion of a research letter published by Children’s Health Fund scholars in JAMA Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed journal from the American Medical Association..

Researcher Roy Grant and his team used the Health Transportation Shortage Index, a tool he also played a lead role in developing at Children’s Health Fund, to measure how difficult it was for residents in each of Mississippi’s 82 counties to get to a doctor’s office. They found people in two-thirds of those counties were at high risk of having transportation challenges.

The distances involved weren’t enormous; most people were within six miles of a clinic. But without a car, and with limited public transportation options, it was difficult for them to get themselves and their kids to the doctor regularly.

The letter argues that developing new transportation services for these families would improve their health – and save money in the long run by reducing emergency room visits.

To learn more, read the letter here, and see our paper on the Health Transportation Shortage Index. Children’s Health Fund is advocating for solutions to transportation problems for low-income patients. You can read more about those efforts on our Transportation Barriers to Health Care Access page.

Photo: Getting around without a car in Mississippi can be a challenge. (Ken Lund, flickr.com)