One-third of seniors with Medicare coverage prefer Medicare Advantage plans because they offer extra benefits like vision, dental, and hearing care. But a new rule could allow Medicare Advantage plans to integrate ride-sharing services like Lyft into their benefit packages as well, allowing seniors more ease and safety traveling to their medical appointments
The rideshare rule
In April of 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new rule to allow Medicare Advantage plans to include non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) as a covered benefit for qualified beneficiaries. This includes beneficiaries who do not have reliable private or public transportation to and from medical appointments.
This rule comes on the heels of Medicare Advantage “reinterpreting the standards for health-related supplemental benefits… to include additional services that increase the health and improve quality of life.” In other words, Medicare Advantage is attempting to address whole-person health, focusing on routine and preventative medicine in order to keep seniors healthy and independent longer.
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A necessary benefit
There are many reasons why a Medicare enrollee may not drive: medication that makes them unable to safely operate a car, poor vision and coordination, slow response times, difficulty navigating streets and highways, lack of a vehicle, and other reasons.
Not having transportation is one of the main reasons why seniors neglect seeking medical attention when they need it. In fact, a survey from Becker’s Hospital Review found that 29 percent of all people who use Lyft services do so in order to seek non-emergency medical treatment.
The survey of more than 30,000 Lyft passengers found that:
- Nearly three-quarters of passengers have used Lyft to attend medical appointments, and found this mode of transportation to be less of a hassle.
- Twenty-eight percent of passengers said they would not have been able to attend their medical appointments without the service.
- Thirty-six percent said they have required fewer visits to urgent care clinics since using Lyft services for medical transportation.
Which insurers offer this benefit?
So far, some Medicare Advantage plans sold by Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana are the only ones to offer this coverage, but more insurers are expected to jump on board.
Lyft’s vice president of healthcare, Megan Callahan, hired last year to help grow the company’s role in the healthcare industry, said, “We expect to be working with the majority of the largest [Medicare Advantage] plans by 2020.”
To see if your Medicare Advantage plan covers Lyft rides for medical transportation, call your plan directly.
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