Need a Lyft? If You Have Certain Medicare Advantage Plans, Hop In

The popular ridesharing company is expanding its partnership with health insurance companies to provide non-emergency medical transportation to Medicare Advantage members.

Woman assisting man out of a car

February 2018

The popular ridesharing company Lyft is preparing to take its Medicare Advantage passengers an extra mile.

The company recently announced plans to expand its collaboration with certain private insurance companies to provide non-emergency transportation to doctor’s offices, pharmacies, clinics and other health care facilities.

Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C) are an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans, provided by private insurers instead of the federal government, typically offer more benefits than what is found in Original Medicare.

In 2018, Medicare Advantage plans received federal approval to offer non-emergency medical transportation as a covered benefit.

Lyft was quick to open its doors to passengers. The company began partnering with private insurers to provide transportation to medical appointments for plan members who live in areas that lack public transportation.

Lyft later enhanced its efforts to include rides to pharmacies, and the most recent change will expand those services to hundreds of additional cities.    

In a report released by Lyft, more than a quarter of Lyft riders (28 percent) said that the service helped them get to a medical appointment that they would have otherwise missed.

And that’s not the only evidence to support the success of the partnership. One Medicare Advantage provider reported a 39 percent drop in ride costs and a 40 percent decrease in wait time for its patients after partnering with Lyft.

Non-emergency medical transportation is only covered by Original Medicare under rare circumstances. Every year, more than 3.6 million people fail to get the health care they need due to a lack of transportation.1

Lyft offers help arranging rides

Lyft is not only helping patients get to their appointments. The company is also helping qualified beneficiaries arrange other transportation.

Rides with Lyft are booked using a smartphone. But because many Americans over the age of 65 do not use smartphones, Lyft has been implementing upgrades to its Concierge feature, which allows businesses (like health insurance companies) to book rides for customers on their behalf. With this feature, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries can arrange a Lyft ride through their insurer or a health care provider without having to use a smartphone.

Lyft will even begin offering rides to fitness centers as part of its partnership, as many Medicare Advantage plans include memberships to SilverSneakers and other wellness programs.

Non-emergency medical transportation is just one of several forward-thinking supplemental benefits that were recently approved for Medicare Advantage plans.

Other potential new benefits include:

  • Home-delivered meal services
  • Air conditioners for people with asthma
  • Items designed to help with aging at home, such as wheelchair ramps and bathroom grab bars

A blog post on Lyft’s website read in part, “We know that scaling investments and partnerships for innovative transportation models will improve health outcomes, decrease costs for patients, payers, and the government, and combat social isolation. We look forward to partnering with MA (Medicare Advantage) plans around the country to leverage the flexibility provided by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to test and make these new models a reality for patients.”  

 

1 CMS. American Hospital Association. Social Determinants of Health Series: Transportation. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2018, from http://www.hpoe.org/resources/ahahret-guides/3078.

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