As ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft grow in popularity, more and more Medicare Advantage plans are including transportation services as a benefit. In 2018, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) announced that in 2019, Medicare Advantage plans will have more freedom to provide coverage for services such as food delivery and transportation.
Does Medicare cover transportation for medical services?
Medicare Part B may cover emergency ambulance transportation to a hospital or skilled nursing facility if transporting in a different vehicle would put your health at risk. Medicare may cover non-emergency transportation in an ambulance if you have a written doctor’s note explaining why an ambulance is medically necessary.
Medicare generally covers up to 80% of the transportation associated costs, but you are responsible for the remaining 20%. If you don’t want to pay for these out-of-pocket costs, a Medicare Supplement plan can help you get full coverage.
Sometimes, Medicare Advantage plans cover non-emergency transportation through third-party vendors. As long as the vendor works with your health plan, you may be able to receive rides to and from doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, and hospitals.
Medicare Transportation Services
Ground medical Transportation services can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars (depending on distance), and air medical transportation can cost well over $10,000.
In an emergency, you should always call 911. If you’re not in an emergency, you can shop around and compare prices with different ambulance and medical transportation services in your area.
Medicare Transportation By State:
While there are a handful of national players, there are several local medical transportation companies in each state.
Medicare Transportation Arizona
The most popular private transportation services in Arizona include:
- ABC Ambulance
- Arizona Ambulance Transport
ABC Ambulance covers the greater Phoenix region. They provide rapid response times alongside basic patient transportation services.
Arizona Ambulance Transport transports patients from the Southeastern Arizona Medical Center to Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and Tucson.
Medicare Transportation Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio
The most popular private transportation services in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio include:
- Yellow Ambulance (KY, IN)
- MTS Ambulance Services (KY, IN, and OH)
- Rural/Metro Corporation (20 states)
- Heartland Ambulance Service (IN)
- TransCare (IN)
Yellow Ambulance is the preferred transportation provider for Louisville and Bullitt County in Kentucky and Floyd and Marion County in Indiana. They provide basic and advanced life support, specialty care transport (dialysis, ventilator, chemotherapy), long-distance transportation, and bariatric transport.
MTS has 24-hour paramedic crews and offers emergency and non-emergency transportation. This includes rides to hospitals, dialysis treatments, and cancer treatments. They also offer wheelchair van service in KY, IN, and OH.
Rural/Metro is a semi-national company that provides emergency and non-emergency transportation. They also have a community fire protection program and offer personal emergency response systems.
Heartland Ambulance Service offers emergency transportation, basic and advanced life support, and a fixed wing air ambulance. They are available in several central Indiana locations.
TransCare serves Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Vincennes, and Columbus. They offer transportation to and from hospitals, dialysis treatments, doctor appointments, and radiation therapy.
Medicare Transportation Louisiana
The most popular private transportation services in Louisiana include:
- Acadian Ambulance Service (LA, MS, TX, and TN)
- A-Med Ambulance Service
Acadian serves 70 counties/parishes in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Their largest state is Louisiana. They offer emergency transportation, air services, non-emergency transportation, and bariatric transport.
A-Med serves the greater New Orleans region including Metairie, New Orleans, Kenner, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, Saint Bernard Parish, and Plaquemines Parish. They offer medical transportation to hospitals, nursing homes, and critical care facilities. They also offer wheelchair van transportation.
Medicare Transportation Northeast
The most popular private transportation services in the Northeast include:
- Citywide Ambulance (NY)
- Lifeline Ambulance (NY)
- Northeast Community Ambulance (PA)
Citywide Ambulance provides basic and advanced life support, bariatric transports, airport transfers, long-distance transport, and luxury transportation options. They serve the greater New York area.
Lifeline provides basic and advanced life support and transportation to and from nursing homes, rehab hospitals, dialysis, radiation, assisted living centers, and retirement centers.
Northeast Community Alliance provides 24/7 emergency transportation. Plus, they offer non-emergency transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, dialysis treatments, and hospital discharges.
Medicare Transportation Northwest
The most popular private transportation services in the Northwest include:
- Olympic Ambulance (WA)
- Northwest Ambulance Transport (WA)
- Tri-Med Ambulance (WA)
Olympic Ambulance offers 911 response, basic and advanced life support, and bariatric transports. They also provide wheelchair van transportation to those who need it.
Northwest Ambulance Transport provides advanced and basic life support in a mobile hospital setting. They also provide standby coverage for several cities in the area.
Tri-Med Ambulance offers ambulance services and critical care transport. They also provide wheelchair accessible transportation for medical treatments or doctor visits.
Medicare Transportation Tennessee
The most popular private transportation services in Tennessee include:
- Lifeguard Ambulance Service (IL, TN, OK, TX, AL, GA, SC, and FL)
- BlueShield EMS
- American Medical Response
Lifeguard serves several states and provides EMS solutions to rural and urban locations. They offer emergency and non-emergency transportation, health system partnerships, and mobile integrated healthcare.
BlueShield EMS provides ambulatory cars, wheelchair vans, stretcher vans, and ambulances for basic and advanced life support.
American Medical Response provides basic and advanced life support, ventilators, and bariatric transportation services to the greater Nashville and Davidson County area.
Medicare Transportation Texas
The most popular private transportation services in Texas include:
- City Ambulance Service
- First Medical Response of Texas
City Ambulance Service serves the entire states of Texas. They provide basic and advanced life support, and wheelchair, dialysis, and chemotherapy transportation.
First Medical Response of Texas provides a mobile intensive care unit providing advanced life support. They also provide EMT basics, bike medical teams, and medical gators.
BestCare offers non-emergency, emergency, and critical care medical transportation. They also offer air ambulance, wheelchair service, dialysis transports, and long-distance transfers.
How to Use Medicare Transportation Services
Medicare transportation can be used for emergencies and non-emergencies. This can help ensure transportation to and from providers, doctor offices, pharmacies, therapy, critical care units, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc.
Medicare Transportation to Doctor’s Appointments
Medicare Advantage plans can help cover the costs of utilizing private transportation companies like the ones above. You can request a ride just before you need to leave your home, or you can schedule a pick-up in advance.
Medicare Transportation to Dialysis
If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and require dialysis, Medicare may cover non-emergency transportation to and from a dialysis facility. However, they will only cover the closest facility.
If you choose to be transported to a facility further away, Medicare will not cover it. If there are no facilities within your local area, Medicare will pay for the nearest facility outside of your area.
Medicare Part B covers ambulance services, but only when necessary. For example, if you are bleeding heavily, unconscious, or need immediate treatment and can’t wait until you get to the hospital, Part B can cover your ambulance transportation. This is only covered if the ambulance is taking you to the nearest facility – you can’t make a special request.
Air ambulance transportation may be covered if your location can’t be reached easily by ground or if obstacles like heavy traffic can stop you from getting the care you need in a timely fashion.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
If you need a ride to a doctor’s appointment or a hospital that does not warrant an ambulance, you may have options.
You may want to start by calling your local Office on Aging. They may have a program in place to help you out regardless of your healthcare plan. Some Medicare allow transportation benefits through Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services.
These plans will require that you have a specific need for transportation, and you would only be able to use your coverage for healthcare-related transportation. This can include rides to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers.
The Future of Medicare Transportation
Ride-sharing companies have grown significantly in recent years. Uber and Lyft have dominated the industry. There are 75 million Uber users and 23 million Lyft users. Medicare Advantage plans are capitalizing on this market and providing new benefits to MA enrollees.
Medicare and Lyft
Some carriers are quickly forming partnerships with Lyft to provide enrollees transportation to and from Walgreens and CVS pharmacies. They have plans to create a “no-cost” service that provides insured transportation to and from health appointments.
This is not intended to be a replacement for emergency transportation, but an extra alternative for non-emergency situations. Lyft Concierge is a website that allows you to schedule or book a ride from a computer alongside your plan’s coverage.
Medicare and Uber
Uber has plans to partner with several organizations nationwide. They will provide transportation to patients traveling to and from their medical appointments.
Uber will allow parents, caregivers, and medical staff to schedule transportation on your behalf. Plus, Uber has created “Uber Health” which is a HIPAA-compliant and cost-effective way for you to book rides with your plan’s coverage.
Medicare and Roundtrip
Roundtrip, a digital NEMT marketplace for the betterment of health, is offering transportation as a benefit for 2020 Medicare plans. Roundtrip works with hospitals, health systems, paratransit, and health plans nationally to remove transportation as a barrier to health and wellness.
With Roundtrip, members can efficiently book all levels of transport: rideshare, Medical Sedans, Wheelchair Van, and Non-Emergency Ambulances (BLS, ALS, SCT, Bariatric Ambulance with our easy-to-use platform. The Roundtrip software is HIPAA compliant and verifies member eligibility. Roundtrip uses real-time GPS tracking and automatically sends text and call notifications to the members about their rides.
Talk to your insurance agent to find out if Roundtrip is included in your plan.
Pick a Plan With Medical Transportation Coverage
If your plan does not offer transportation and you would like to have that benefit, we may be able to find a better plan for you. It all depends on your location and eligibility. We can send one of our agents to your home for a free appointment to figure out what your plan options are.
Just complete this form to request a call or call us at 833-438-3676.
This post was originally published on May 31, 2018, by Anastasia Iliou, and updated on December 4, 2019, by Troy Frink.