Out-of-Pocket Costs for Rural Residents When Traveling for Health Care
Results from a province-wide survey in British Columbia
“This report presents findings from a rural citizen-patient survey on the out-of-pocket costs incurred while traveling to access health care in BC. To our knowledge, it is the first primary research study to systematically document the financial consequences of traveling for care for rural residents in BC and, as such, provides important information for health care planners.”
The results of this survey provide a starting place for discussions on the role of public support for rural residents who need to travel for health care. These discussions must involve key stakeholders from rural communities but also regional representatives and government ministries beyond the Ministry of Health (e.g., Transportation and Highways, the Ministry of Child and Family Development). Bringing the right group together will provided a starting place for developing a system response to ensure all residents have access to the health care they require, without financial barriers.
Respondents were asked to complete the survey for the most recent health care issue that required travel (e.g., a surgical procedure, cancer care). The most recent travel for this issue must have occurred within the last two years. Respondents were instructed to include travel for that one health issue and not to include separate travel for other health issues. However, responses indicate that a few respondents likely included trips for multiple issues in one survey response. Nonetheless, in this report, the use of the phrase ‘per person’ refers to the average cost per survey participant for one health condition. All costs are reported in Canadian Dollar as of 2020.
This study is co-funded by the Health Economics Simulation Modelling Methods Cluster, BC SUPPORT Unit and the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, through the larger context of the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Networks program, which works to stabilize and enhance surgical and obstetrical services in rural communities across BC.