Does Medicare Cover Transportation?
For many older adults, the very act of getting to a doctor’s appointment or the hospital can be an anxiety-inducing procedure. Medicare can assist with transportation, but how do you determine when you can get this help?
Let’s clear up what kinds of transportation Medicare covers right off the bat.
Medicare Part B covers emergency transportation
If you need an ambulance, Medicare Part B covers your transportation if driving yourself or riding in any other car might have a negative impact on your health—like if you’re having a heart attack or stroke. The ambulance will take you to the nearest medical center that can treat you.
Your Part B deductible applies to an ambulance ride, so you’ll be responsible for the deductible amount before Medicare pays.
Important details about Medicare ambulance coverage
Be aware that if you use an ambulance for a non-emergency, you’ll likely be stuck with the entire bill, regardless of the deductible. If your situation is not an emergency—or the ambulance company has reason to believe Medicare might not pay—the company is required to give you an Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN) before the service.
If you don’t receive an ABN and Medicare denies payment, you might not be on the hook for the bill after all. Read more about what to do next in our article about ABNs.
Medicare Part B rarely covers nonemergency transportation
If you want a ride to your doctor’s appointment or another nonemergency situation, Medicare Part B is unlikely to pay for it—except for cases where your doctor deems medical transport as medically necessary for you.
Residents of some states may easily be able to get nonemergency transportation, however. If you live in one of the following states, you may be able to participate in a demonstration program (a program being tested by Medicare) for nonemergency transportation:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
For more information, read about the company that contracts with Medicare: Fed Pro Services.
Medicare Advantage covers emergency transportation
Since Medicare Advantage plans must include everything that Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers, every Medicare Advantage plan covers emergency transportation. However, your ambulance bill may vary by plan.
Medicare Advantage may cover nonemergency transportation
Medicare Advantage plans may include nonemergency transportation as a supplemental benefit.
As of 2020, Medicare Advantage plans may cover trips to your doctor—either through a shuttle service, taxi, or ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft. The Medicare Advantage transportation benefit varies from plan to plan, so it’s essential to read the fine print of any plan you might be interested in.
For example, some Medicare Advantage plans cover only a set number of trips per year to approved locations—and a “trip” means one way, not round trip. Other plans include unlimited trips to and from approved locations with $0 copays—a huge benefit—and only stipulate a maximum mileage for each trip. So be sure and dig into those details to see what you’re getting.
Regardless, nonemergency transportation coverage is a handy new benefit. If you’re interested in finding a Medicare Advantage plan that includes transportation benefits, check out Medicare’s Find a Plan tool, or call a licensed agent.
Other ways to get help with nonemergency transportation
If you receive financial assistance from a federal or state program—such as Medicaid or the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)—you may have access to transportation benefits. Often, these benefits include nonemergency transportation to the doctor or medical centers to receive treatment.
Learn more about how to get transportation from Medicaid.
Wrap-up: Transportation and Medicare
In summary, traditional Medicare rarely covers nonemergency transportation, but many Medicare Advantage plans do. Both Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare cover emergency transportation.
If you’re interested in switching to a Medicare Advantage plan that includes transportation benefits, call a licensed agent for help.
Content on this site has not been reviewed or endorsed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the United States Government, any state Medicare agency, or any private insurance agency (collectively "Medicare System Providers"). Eligibility.com is a DBA of Clear Link Technologies, LLC and is not affiliated with any Medicare System Providers.