Report Finds Disparities in Time, Resources Spent Seeking Care
The study was funded by the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline. The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Overall, the report found that U.S. residents in 2010 spent 1.1 billion hours seeking health care at a cost of $52 billion.
Individuals spent an average of about two hours traveling to, waiting for and seeing a doctor. Meanwhile:
- Appointments lasted about 20 minutes;
- Travel times averaged 37 minutes; and
- Wait times averaged 64 minutes.
However, the report found that certain racial groups and low-income individuals spend more time and resources getting care. For instance, the report found that:
- Blacks and Hispanics spent about 25% more time than whites waiting for care and completing administrative tasks; and
- Low-income and unemployed individuals faced longer travel and wait times for care.
The researchers recommended that the time it takes to seek care could be reduced by:
- Establishing telemedicine programs and using other electronic tools;
- Putting clinics in schools, community centers and workplaces; and
- Streamlining office visits.
"It is important to consider time costs when evaluating new treatment and care delivery models designed to create higher-value, more patient-centered care and to reduce health care disparities," according to the report (Guzik, HealthyCal, 10/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.