May 18, 2023 - Transit

How transportation impacts health in Columbus

Share of Columbus households without a vehicle in 2020
Data: National Equity Atlas analysis of IPUMS USA data; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

More than one in five U.S. adults without access to a vehicle or public transportation missed or skipped a medical appointment last year, according to a report by the Urban Institute.

Why it matters: Transportation is a key social driver of health equity.

  • While telehealth has reduced some transportation barriers, it's not accessible to all and can't replace in-person care for all medical needs, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim reports.

What they found: Nationwide, 21% of adults without access to a vehicle or public transit said they went without needed medical care in 2022.

  • Though 91% of adults reported they had access to a vehicle, the figure was substantially lower for Black adults (81%), those with low family incomes (78%) or a disability (83%) and for individuals with public health insurance (79%) or no coverage (83%).

Zoom in: In Columbus, 11% of households don't have access to a vehicle — and that number is even higher for people of color, and especially women, per the National Equity Atlas.

The big picture: A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found as much as 40% of a person's health can be attributed to socioeconomic factors like education, employment and transportation availability.

What's happening: Some health care providers have launched programs to fill the gap locally, such as CVS Health's partnership with Uber Health in Linden that provides free rides to medical appointments.

  • OhioHealth screens for transportation issues and offers free bus passes and rideshares to patients in need, and its Wellness on Wheels mobile unit brings care into low-income communities, a spokesperson tells Axios.

What they're saying: Accessing clinical care is one of many ways transportation and well-being are connected, Health Policy Institute of Ohio president Amy Rohling McGee tells Axios.

  • "Being able to get to places where you can purchase healthy food … to a job that pays a better wage … these are all factors that contribute to our total picture of health."
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