Does Medicaid Cover Transportation to and From Dialysis Treatments?
This information is current as of June 28, 2022.
Kidney dialysis is an essential procedure that demands a lot of commitment, sometimes needing you to travel at least three days a week. If you have limited income and are a Medicaid beneficiary, can Medicaid cover transportation costs to your dialysis appointments?
Nearly everyone who benefits from Medicaid is eligible to receive Medicaid transportation services. The transport assistance is for those with medically necessary appointments. Although what is medically necessary could vary by state or case-by-case basis, Medicaid should cover transportation for dialysis appointments.
Though we know that Medicaid transportation services exist, we still need to know the requirements, limitations, how to sign up, and the carrier options. To better understand the service concerning your dialysis treatments, let’s look at Medicaid transport assistance in depth.
Why Does Medicaid Cover Dialysis Transportation?
To know why Medicaid covers travel for dialysis appointments, we must look at Medicaid itself. Medicaid is a program that aims to reduce the cost of medical care for individuals and families with limited earnings or resources.
A specific example of those eligible to participate in Medicaid are people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. To qualify for SSI, an individual must not have more than a certain amount of assets ($2,000 in 2022) and must not earn more than a specific yearly income ($19,560 in 2022).
When you earn or own that much or less and must receive dialysis treatment, you may not have the finances necessary to get to your appointment. That’s where Medicaid comes in, offering you a way to get to your medically necessary dialysis appointments.
Medicaid Transportation Options
Once you know that you can benefit from Medicaid’s transport assistance, what kind of transportation options can you expect from the service?
There are numerous modes of transportation that you may take if you sign up for Medicaid’s transportation services. Modes include:
- Wheelchair van
- Public transport
- Commercial airline
- Private vehicle
Since you know when your dialysis appointments occur, it’s unlikely for Medicaid to assign you an ambulance for routine travel. However, in certain circumstances, such as when you need close monitoring or cannot move quickly, Medicaid may assign an ambulance as your mode of transportation.
Medicaid may authorize you to receive transportation to your dialysis appointment with a wheelchair van. However, this is often only the case if you use a wheelchair or have a condition requiring you to have more space than inside a regular vehicle.
To go to your dialysis appointment, Medicaid may authorize you to use a taxi as a mode of transport. A conventional taxi may be the best option in areas with few public transport alternatives. Taxis are also suitable options in cases where you cannot use your vehicle.
For those who are mobile and the only issue with traveling to your dialysis appointment is the cost of travel, Medicaid may authorize the use of public transport. In this case, Medicaid will reimburse the expense of your fair that you pay to attend your appointment.
Medicaid can pay for the use of a commercial airline for beneficiaries in certain circumstances. However, Medicaid is very unlikely to authorize the use of a commercial airline for regular dialysis appointments due to the high cost and inconvenience.
Receiving reimbursement for using your private vehicle is a common way for Medicaid to cover the cost of transportation. The process involves you or someone you choose driving you to your dialysis appointment. Medicaid will then reimburse you or that person a specific amount to cover the mileage cost and other such expenditures.
Signing Up for Medicaid Transportation
The United States Department of Health has a policy that requires a notice three days before using Medicaid transportation for non-urgent travel. After your physician confirms that dialysis is medically necessary, your medical provider will contact a Medicaid representative to request transport.
Within those three days, the representative checks to ensure that you have the right Medicaid cover and decide on the most suitable mode of transportation. They also assess your personal and appointment details. In certain states, confirmation must be confirmed that you cannot schedule your ride through private or public transport.
If you have yet to enroll in the program but are likely to be eligible, Medicaid may still be able to cover the cost of your travel. In addition, for several states, the program can cover medical expenses you incur up to six months before you apply, which can help lower transportation costs in the long term.
Alternative Solutions for Dialysis Transportation
There are a lot of different alternatives to Medicaid when getting to and from your dialysis treatment appointment. In this section, let’s cover other low-cost or free options that can be beneficial.
A dialysis center can offer transportation in certain areas for patients who cannot get to their appointment or back home after treatment. Since this service does not involve Medicaid, it could mean that you may have to pay. Some centers perform this service for free. However, it is not always the case.
To check whether your dialysis center offers transportation, contact them directly. If there are fees for the ride, it will likely be cheaper than other options, such as having to use a taxi you pay for personally.
In more rural places, the county itself may have services that help dialysis patients reach their appointments. In specific towns or cities, there are also services for older patients who have no way to get their appointments. These special services are typically free, though that may not always be the case.
Non-profit organizations can also provide free medical transportation for those with less financial resources. There are also companies like Mercy Medical Angels, whose mission is to eliminate the barrier to medical treatments by providing transportation for patients who are at a disadvantage.
There are also other charities, some being local, that can provide free or low-cost transportation. To find out which charities offer such services, investigate the different types of non-profits in your local area and call directly to ask.
Home Health Agencies and Providers
Private home health providers can potentially help with transportation for medical treatments. These companies already offer healthcare services to patients in the comfort of their own homes. In addition, home health care can be cheaper than any medical care you may receive in hospitals or other official centers.
If you are already using the services of such a provider, consider whether they can include transporting you to your appointments as part of their services. If not using such a service, it may be a good idea to check into the different companies and check if they provide low-cost transportation.
Dialysis treatments can be exceptionally inconvenient when you factor in the time it demands each week. Nevertheless, besides your dialysis sessions, you should be able to live as expected with only a few changes to your daily life.
Living with Dialysis Treatments
One case where you may have to change your lifestyle is if you work in physically demanding roles. In that circumstance, consider looking for other opportunities since performing physically challenging tasks can be detrimental to your body.
Another change you may have to make is to do with your diet. More toxins that you introduce to your body result in the production of more waste, meaning longer dialysis treatments to remove the waste. However, whether you receive treatment or not, try to maintain a healthy diet.
Overall, since Medicaid covers the cost of transportation for dialysis treatments, you can attend your appointments without having any extra financial burdens. However, attending your dialysis appointment is essential, so make sure you either apply for transport through Medicaid or use one of the alternative transport options above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Dialysis Patients Still Travel?
If you receive dialysis treatments, you can usually travel, work, and move as you have always been if you were not getting treatment. Other than the (sometimes daily) dialysis sessions, you may be able to travel. However, consult your physician if you are planning long or arduous trips.
Where Do You Receive Dialysis Treatment?
Where you receive dialysis treatment depends on your provider. Some people may receive the treatments in a hospital. In contrast, others may have to attend dialysis centers and units not part of any main hospital. In some circumstances, individuals can also receive treatment at home.
How Long Do Dialysis Treatments Last?
The number of dialysis treatments one should undertake differs depending on their condition. However, on average, a treatment session is four hours and thrice weekly.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for programs like Medicaid, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs to help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.
Get a Tablet for $10.01
Save Even More With Recommended Resources and Amazon Deals
Looking to save on additional items? You may want to check out our Recommended Resources page.