According to a study completed by Community Transportation Association, some 3.6 million people in the United States miss a doctor’s appointment or put off going to the doctor simply because they do not have any way to get there. Of that 3.6 million, 950,000 are children. Most of these individuals are low-income and lack a working vehicle. While larger areas have affordable public transportation, not everyone lives in these areas. However, for those with low-income, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) options are available.
Because low-income patients fall through the gaps, the NEMT benefits fill those gaps. In some cases, ambulances are utilized to help patients get to where they need, especially if they are coming from a nursing home. However, subsidies in certain areas allow patients to take taxis, vans, or car services to get to their appointments.
Spending a Little to Save a Lot
Studies indicate that by providing non-emergency medical transportation for routine appointments, Medicaid and Medicare can actually save money. Of course, there is an investment necessary for the system to work. Despite the increased cost, it has been shown that the investment is returned. These studies show that providing this service saves an average of $367 per person.
Routine non-emergency medical transportation is approximately fifteen times cheaper than if that same patient took an ambulance to the emergency room for treatment. On average, the NEMT services only account for 10 percent of the total Medicaid patient base. The expenses total only one percent of the department’s expenditures.
Additional studies conducted by Florida State University determined that even if just one percent of all funded NEMT trips ended with the person going to a doctor’s office instead of the emergency room, the state would see a return of 1108 percent. This is approximately a return of $11.08 for each dollar spent by state agencies.
Keeping In Line With the Affordable Care Act
Providing non-emergency medical transportation is key to staying in line with the Affordable Care Act. The ACA requires that Medicaid coverage is available for all low-income American citizens. It is an important part of the US having an effective and efficient health care system.
In recent changes to Medicaid, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services made providing consistent access to medicinal treatments a mandatory benefit. This change is an effort to provide effective management for the escalating costs associated with hospital costs. It is also an important aspect to ensure general health care gets to those who need it most.
It is important to offer non-emergency medical transportation to those who need it most to keep American citizens healthy. Thanks to new laws and regulations, the NEMT benefits serve as the lifeblood of Medicaid. Additionally, it reduces the financial burden of the state and federal government by avoiding ambulance transportation and emergency room visits that could have been avoided if there had been an alternate means of transport.