ICYMI: More Than 20 Percent of Adults Skip Health Care Visits Due To Transportation Barriers. Telehealth Can Help Address These Inequities.

May 4, 2023

According to New Research, Lack of Transportation Access Impacts Long-Term Health, Especially Among Low-Income and Disadvantaged Communities

In case you missed it, according to a recent study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “One in five adults without access to a vehicle or public transportation reported skipping necessary healthcare services.”

The study, which analyzed June 2022 data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS), found that “21 percent of U.S. adults without access to a vehicle or public transit went without needed medical care last year,” and that “5 percent of all U.S. adults reported forgoing healthcare due to transportation barriers.” These disparities were exacerbated among Black adults, low income families, and those with public health insurance or a disability. 

Telehealth can help reduce these barriers and address health care and transportation inequities. For example, one study of just 100 patients with diabetes found that access to telehealth resources saved them 9,500 miles of driving in just six months, allowing for a more normal daily life for those with this chronic condition and providing access to care that might otherwise be unavailable. Another recent study from Alcohol Research Group (ARG) and RTI found telehealth utilization can act as a bridge for traditionally underserved groups, including Latinx/Hispanic and lower-income patients, to increase access to much-needed care. 

Without the need to drive to appointments, patients are saving time, energy, and no longer have transportation roadblocks. For moms like Lori in New York, this has made a world of difference: “My daughter, who is thirteen, developed social anxiety during the pandemic and she meets with her counselor through telehealth. I am a single parent working 40+ hours a week without reliable transportation options. Telehealth allows my daughter to get the quality and consistent care she needs to thrive, which I’ve previously struggled to provide. Telehealth has helped my daughter immensely. Instead of suffering, she gets the treatment she needs and even made the honor roll!”

Further, a survey from Johns Hopkins University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that among more than 30 million Medicare fee-for-services claims following the waiver extension, nearly 10 percent of patients had at least one virtual care visit, and individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhoods were most likely to utilize telehealth, compared just 0.42 percent pre-pandemic. A study of diabetic veterans who utilized telehealth also found they saved 78 minutes of travel time each way and the VA saved $72.94 worth of travel costs per patient. 

Congress must act now to permanently safeguard telehealth access and continue to eliminate transportation and other barriers to care. 

Read the full study HERE and learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect telehealth access HERE.


Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.