For many elderly people, transportation is a serious barrier to receiving routine medical care. If you don’t have the ability to drive or have others who can transport you, you might wonder: Does Medicare pay for transportation to the hospital? Does Medicare pay for transportation to doctor appointments?
To find the answers, we have to look at two scenarios: transportation to a hospital or a doctor office.
Does Medicare Pay for Medical Transportation?
Let’s talk about doctor office visits first. If you have original Medicare, it only covers ambulance transportation if it is considered medically necessary, and if all other forms of transportation would be endangering your health. Original Medicare does not cover routine trips to see your doctor.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, some do cover some of the cost of transportation as long as it is to an approved facility or care center. In most cases, you would need prior authorization to use that benefit. If you want to use this benefit, you should contact your Medicare Advantage Plan to discuss the perimeters for coverage.
If you need medically necessary emergency transportation to a hospital, original Medicare covers 80% of the cost. Medicare Advantage Plans typically cover the cost for medically necessary ambulance transportation, with a copayment required.
If you have questions about what Medicare covers, you can find some of those answers at Medicare.gov. Or speak with your Medicare Advantage Plan provider.
How to Find Transportation for Doctor Visits
Now that we have answered the question, “Does Medicare pay for transportation?”, let’s discuss some other ways to find needed transport to your doctor.
It is important that you have routine and timely visits with your Medicare doctor, so if you need a ride to get there safely, there are options to consider.
Agency on Aging
One of the places to start is your local Agency on Aging. These non-profit agencies were developed to assist older Americans, and you may be able to find contacts for ride assistance.
Uber and Lyft
Some Medicare Advantage Plans cover options with Uber and Lyft. Uber Health is a recent development to assist people needing rides to appointments and some may be covered.
Check out eldercare.acl.gov, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging for information on transportation for elderly people.
Pace – otherwise known as Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) – is a Medicare and Medicaid program to help people meet their health care needs in the community, instead of going to a nursing home or care facility.
Churches or local faith-based organizations
Some churches and faith-based organizations will help elderly people find rides to health appointments. Look for information, call your church office or contact your local faith-based organizations.
In-home care services
Some in-home care services will also offer transportation assistance. Contact local services to see what they offer.
Does Medicaid Offer Transportation Coverage?
If you are on Medicaid, it may cover the cost of doctor appointment trips if you don’t have a driver’s license, you have a medical condition that makes it unsafe to wait for a ride or drive yourself, or if you have no other means to get there.
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