Every day, thousands of patients and their families are faced with the challenge of getting to the hospital for routine care or a much-needed appointment. Since these visits are not considered emergencies, patients need to find an alternative to ambulances.

What Is Non-emergency Patient Transportation?

Also referred to as non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), patient transportation provides a means for people to visit the doctor’s office, urgent care, hospital, or other medical facility for routine appointments. NEMT should not be considered as an alternative to an ambulance in the event of an emergency. Instead, it fills a gap for people who are unable to transport themselves to routine appointments.

Patient transportation is ideal for individuals who find it difficult to drive themselves to an appointment. This can include individuals who are limited in mobility or unable to drive due to medications, as well as those who do not have a license.

How Does It Compare to Ambulances?

As the name suggests, NEMT is not an emergency service. However, it shares many similarities with ambulances. Most companies employ drivers who are experienced EMTs capable of providing CPR and first aid or even operating an AED. They are also often trained in defensive driving techniques and meticulously monitored on the road in order to ensure the constant safety of their passengers.

Although an ambulance is not necessary for most non-emergency medical transportation, the vehicles used for this service are heads-and-shoulders above the average cab. Most NEMT shuttles are equipped to accommodate wheelchairs or stretchers.

When (and Where) Is It Available?

This depends on the service provider. Some services only provide shuttles for medical appointments, while other providers have much more comprehensive plans. Some providers even offer to arrange travel to special events like weddings or graduations for those who have trouble traveling on their own. Regardless of the destination, what sets NEMT apart from other services is a dedication to the safety, comfort, and special needs of their passengers.

Do I Have to Pay Out of Pocket?

Many insurance companies, as well as federal and state social insurance programs, will cover the cost of patient transportation for qualified members of their program. To qualify, an individual usually needs to demonstrate two things: first, they must have a medical need for which they need to be driven to a treatment center. Second, they need to demonstrate that they are incapable of transporting themselves.

Individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria are often deemed incapable of traveling on their own:

– unable to get up from bed without assistance from someone else
– unable to walk on their own
– unable to use a chair or wheelchair

To find out if your insurer will provide compensation, contact them and ask how to determine if your appointment is a medical necessity. Next, talk to them about options for transportation to and from the treatment facility.


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