If you need help getting to and from medical appointments, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs may cover transportation. Each program has its own rules, and eligibility varies by state. Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that helps pay for healthcare costs for people with low incomes, is required by law to provide nonemergency transportation services for some beneficiaries.
Ambulance transport — either by airplane or helicopter (also called emergency airlift transportation) — is covered under Medicare Part B if your doctor writes an order that says it’s medically necessary and that ground transportation would endanger your health. You must agree to the service and sign an advanced beneficiary notice (ABN) stating that you understand that Medicare doesn’t always pay for ambulance transportation.
A rideshare company called Lyft is one of the leading providers of NEMT and has partnered with several healthcare organizations to make it easier for patients to get medical transportation. In addition to a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Lyft is now working with Humana through its collaboration with LogistiCare to provide NEMT for select Medicare Advantage plan members.
Some Medicare Advantage plans offer non-emergency transportation as an extra benefit, but this is usually limited and requires prior authorization. Some of these plans also have a copay. Others charge a monthly membership fee to use the service. The UCSF research expands on work Humana has independently done on examining Medicare Advantage plan transportation benefits and will examine health and utilization outcomes and develop and test interventions to increase access.