High gas prices discourage patients from getting treatment

Well, the following isn't surprising but it's still a shame. Increasingly, it's begun to look as though U.S. residents with illnesses forcing them to travel often or go long distances are postponing medical visits, cutting back on care, or even avoiding it entirely. According to the Kaiser Daily Health Policy, patients who travel for treatment several times a week, such as cancer patients getting chemotherapy or patients who need dialysis, are facing particular difficulties now that a gallon of gasoline costs $3.60 or more on average. Some patients, where possible, are switching to public transit. Paratransit of Sacramento, CA, which offers rides to appointments for the elderly and disabled for $4, has seen an 11 percent growth in the number of projected ride requests.

Meanwhile, many who continue to seek treatment in places where public transit can't easily go have begun to seek grants to help them manage the high cost of transportation, according to an analysis by USA Today. For example, the American Kidney Fund, which offers transportation grants to dialysis patients  of up to $175 twice per year,  has paid out 12,842 grants totaling $2.2 million through July. That's 31 percent more than during the same period in 2007. Another group, patient support organization CancerCare, has spent $4.1 million in grants, $500,000 more than the previous fiscal year, with 91 percent going to transportation.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece