Why NEMT Providers are Crucial to the Healthcare System


Why NEMT Providers are Crucial to the Healthcare System

There are two major outcomes that revolve around poor transportation in the medical industry: a decrease in the use of preventative care doctors, and an increase in the number of emergency room visits.  Missed appointments are one of the biggest frustrations for any medical office since they lead to lost revenue and wasted time. The losses that these offices endure are significant and it happens primarily due to one main issue. Too many patients just do not have reliable transportation to get to a scheduled healthcare appointment. Lack of, or undependable, transportation causes patients to miss routine appointments, or not schedule them all together, which can eventually lead to a very costly ambulance ride and emergency room visit. Additionally, appointment no-shows mean that a provider will not get reimbursed and according to one report, [1] this amounts to a whopping loss to providers of $150+ billion annually. This impacts all of us as it leads to increases in healthcare costs for everyone.

An analysis [2] funded by the Medical Transportation Access Coalition found that NEMT is a direct cost saver for Medicaid in treating patients with kidney failure that require dialysis as well as patients with diabetes that require wound care. This study also states that “NEMT more than pays for itself as part of a care management strategy for people with chronic diseases.”  The study supports the idea that missed medical appointments lessens patient compliance with clinical guidelines, which leads to complications and expensive medical services. 

Safe and reliable transportation has a direct impact on a person’s ability to stay healthy. According to a popular study, [3] 3.6 million people in the US miss or delay medical care due to lack of proper transportation. To deal with this issue, most state run Medicaid programs provide transportation to and from health-related appointments. Known as non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), this service is offered to patients and healthcare consumers who face the daily challenges of getting to their medical appointments. This is not limited to the elderly. It can be anyone who has a chronic condition, low income, or have no access to a safe ride. 

The training and ability of the driver and their vehicle is also an important factor. Patients need drivers that can offer them the special assistance required to get in and out of the vehicle, including wheelchairs and stretchers. When transportation is limited, healthcare appointments are missed, illnesses go undiagnosed, which invariably leads to increased medical care and further detriment to the patient.  

As a patient, NEMT services don’t have to be expensive and are often offered at no cost to the patient. This can be a better solution instead of having to rely on busy friends or family members. To find out what NEMT may cost, a patient need only contact their health plan or managed care plan to see what costs are covered under their plan. Medicaid and Medicare recipients may be required to contact a transportation broker that your state or health plan has contracted with to manage transportation services. It may come as a pleasant surprise just how affordable non-emergency medical transportation can be.

It is clear that Medicaid recipients heavily rely on non-emergency medical transportation since they lack other resources for affordable, reliable and safe transportation to get to their important healthcare appointments. Research shows that the NEMT service is a cost-effective way to aid patients with preventative care appointments and low income as well as those with disabilities and chronic conditions that require more frequent regular care.

  1. https://hbr.org/2010/03/how-behavioral-economics-can-h
  2. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/156625.aspx
  3. https://mtaccoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/NEMT-ROI-Study-Results-One-Pager.pdf