NS government offers to defray some travel costs for surgery patients

Starting June 1, some Nova Scotians waiting for surgery may be eligible to help from the Nova Scotia government to defray some of their travel costs.

The travel assistance program will be available to patients who have to travel within the province for certain procedures. The aid is only available to families who earn less than $35,000 a year and won’t cover all travel-related expenses.

Tanya Penney, a senior executive director at the Department of Health and Wellness, said the pilot project was designed to encourage people to choose sites with shorter waiting lists for the procedures they need.

“What we’re hearing from people around the province is that the cost of hotels and the cost of gas has actually become a barrier for people to access care a little bit further away from home than they prefer,” said Penney. “And so this is really about helping those folks, in reducing those costs to make sure they get their surgeries in a more timely fashion.”

The provincial government will pay 57 cents per kilometer to offset some of the cost of gas and up to $85 a night for a hotel stay if the travel is more than 50 kilometers in each direction.

Penney acknowledged those rates would not cover the full costs incurred by those willing to travel for their care.

Gives partially coverage

“This is really a program to reduce costs and it’s never really a program to cover all of the costs,” said Penney. “That being said, we’re really hoping that the $85 a night resonates with people.”

“Over time we’ll assess and make sure we’re actually meeting the needs of people who need to travel.”

The province has set aside $946,000 for this program which it hopes could help as many as 2,400 Nova Scotians.

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