Long travel, wait times in healthcare represent annual opportunity cost of $89B

Travel and wait times associated with receiving healthcare services are higher than in any other service category, according to a new report from Altarum. The wait times for healthcare were more than twice the length of the next closest service category, which was veterinary services.

Data from the American Time Use Survey from 2006 to 2017 was used for the research, which found that consumers in the United States spend an average of 34 minutes on travel and 11 minutes on waiting each time they access healthcare services. This represents an annual opportunity cost of $89 billion, according to Altarum’s calculations.

“The findings underscore the need for the health sector to focus greater attention on decreasing consumer travel and wait times to ease the burden on consumers,” report author Corey Rhyan, a senior analyst at Altarum, said in a prepared statement.

Altarum noted in the statement that the $89 billion figure was determined using estimates of respondents’ hourly wages and tracking how much time respondents lost due to receiving healthcare.