Nova Scotia is launching a pilot program that will offer travel support for low-income residents who have to travel within the province for surgery.
The Department of Health said this new program may reduce surgical wait times for some by supporting patients in traveling to a health site where wait times are shorter.
“Some surgeries and procedures mean Nova Scotians have to travel quite a distance from home and sometimes stay overnight to be closer to the hospital and those costs can add up,” Health Minister Michelle Thompson said in a statement Thursday.
“This pilot program will ensure patients pay less for travel and accommodation to get the surgeries or procedures they need.”
The program will run for one year beginning June 1 and will reimburse some transportation costs. It will offer $0.57 per kilometer for patients using a personal vehicle and accommodation expenses of up to $85 per night if patients are traveling more than 50 kilometers one-way for their appointment.
Dr. Greg Hirsch, cardiac surgeon and senior medical director of the Nova Scotia Health Perioperative (Surgical) Services Network, said in a statement that the need to travel for surgery often adds to an already-stressful situation for patients.
“By helping with travel costs, this program will take away some of these worries, so patients can focus on their surgery and recovery,” Hirsch said.
To be eligible for the reimbursed fees Nova Scotians must:
- have a confirmed surgery, endoscopy or cystoscopy appointment date
- be on the provincial wait list for the procedure
- have a gross family income of less than $35,000 a year
- do not have private insurance that covers travel and accommodation costs
The province expects about 2,400 patients will be eligible for this one-year program and the estimated cost is $946,000.