What is Non-Emergency Medical Transportation?


What is Non-Emergency Medical Transportation?

Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) refers to transportation services for individuals who need assistance getting to and from medical appointments, pharmacies, urgent care facilities, or hospitals. Medicaid beneficiaries have NEMT services covered in their health insurance plans, allowing them access to reliable transportation. Some Medicare Advantage plans also offer NEMT services for their members.

NEMT vehicles can support those who require special accommodations, like a wheelchair lift or ramp, however, they are not designed to provide life-saving services and should not be used in place of an emergency ambulance transport.


Who Benefits from Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT)?

The NEMT industry benefits a broad range of people, including those with disabilities that prevent them from driving, individuals who lack transportation, people without a valid driver's license or working vehicle, and anyone with an injury who is temporarily or permanently unable to drive themselves.

Moreover, patients who need a wheelchair or stretcher during transportation benefit from NEMT. Often, family members and friends are more than willing to drive their loved one to and from medical appointments, but their vehicle prevents them from the ability to do so. Non-emergency medical transportation ensures everyone can attend their medical appointments, no matter their limitation.


NEMT vs Emergency Medical Transportation

While non-emergency medical transportation services are designed to ensure members receive better healthcare, they are not intended to be used in life-saving situations. It's important to understand the difference between NEMT and emergency medical transportation, so members get the assistance they need when they need it most.

NEMT is for those who have a diagnosis but do not require immediate admission to a hospital or other healthcare facility. It can be used for routine appointments and scheduled doctor visits, physical therapy, and rehabilitation programs. This service is typically provided through a non-emergency transportation broker like Alivi Health, rather than hospitals or clinics.

On the other hand, emergency medical transportation is reserved for patients who need immediate, life-saving medical care. These services are typically dispatched by a hospital or another emergency service provider.

A man who needs a wheelchair but not a wheelchair van

"NEMT is for those who have a diagnosis but do not require immediate admission to a hospital or other healthcare facility."


Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Services

Non-emergency medical transportation providers offer a broad range of services. In addition to getting patients to appointments, NEMT offers improved access to healthcare for individuals living in rural areas where public transportation is unavailable or difficult to come by.

Depending on the NEMT program, an individual may ride share with others going to the same or a nearby facility. This service helps further reduce costs and can provide a great opportunity to spend time with others, which is incredibly important for people who don't socialize much in their daily lives.

However, NEMT does much more than simply ensure members make it to their healthcare appointments. It acts to improve mental and physical health outcomes that are seemingly unrelated to a patient's diagnosis. The National Institute of Mental Health states, "Chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes may make you more likely to have or develop a mental health condition."

People who have chronic health conditions often need to adapt to living an unfamiliar lifestyle. They may feel uncertain about the future, their favorite hobbies may be difficult or impossible to do, and they might feel upset about needing to rely on assistance from others for things they could once do themselves.

NEMT providers take away much of the stress associated with chronic illness and disease. Patients can enjoy a carefree process that requires nothing of them aside from getting in and out of a vehicle. They don't need to worry about family members or friends disrupting their schedules to provide transportation or be concerned that public transportation will prevent them from making it to appointments on time.

Additionally, an individual who needs a ride from NEMT will be assigned a vehicle that has everything they need to be comfortable. This might mean someone to assist them with sitting and standing, wheelchair access, stretchers for people who are bed-bound, and ample room for health equipment, like oxygen tanks.

woman sitting on wheelchair waiting for transportation

"An individual who needs a ride from NEMT will be assigned a vehicle that has everything they need to be comfortable."


Is Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Covered by Medicaid?

A study found that nearly 60% of Medicaid beneficiaries report a lack of reliable and affordable transportation as a barrier to receiving quality healthcare. To fix this issue, state Medicaid agencies provide eligible beneficiaries non-emergency transportation services to and from qualifying locations.

If a person qualifies for NEMT, Medicaid will cover costs to and from appointments ordered by a healthcare provider. The type of equipment used for transportation (such as a wheelchair lift or stretcher) may also be covered by Medicaid, ensuring an affordable service.


What is a Medicaid NEMT Broker?

A Medicaid NEMT broker is contracted with state Medicaid agencies or health plan, to provide non-emergency medical transportation to and from routine healthcare appointments. Some are licensed by the Office of Insurance Regulations as a Third-Party Administrator (TPA), so health insurance companies can outsource operational functions.

One of these operational functions include credentialing of the drivers and vehicles to ensure safe, comfortable, and reliable transportation. This benefit is available for all Medicaid plans and some Medicare Advantage plans

A Medicaid NEMT broker may contract with commercial transportation companies, Uber, Lyft, taxis, and others. When a member needs non-emergency medical transportation, the Medicare NEMT broker will provide an appropriate vehicle and a capable driver to transport the member to their healthcare center.


Contact a Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Broker Near Me

Beneficiaries need to contact their state broker or their health insurance plan to find out who their NEMT broker is. Then they can contact the NEMT broker to schedule transportation. When Health Plans need a non-emergency medical transportation broker, contact Alivi.

Although non-emergency medical transportation is not a life-saving service, it can help prevent devastating emergencies in the future. With transportation to and from healthcare providers in your area, you have better access to the services you need, which can improve health outcomes. Doctors can catch early signs of disease, prescribe appropriate medication, and adjust care as needed.

This kind of health management is vital for being as healthy as possible now and avoiding the need for emergency medical care in the future.


Who is Alivi?

Alivi is a non-emergency medical transportation broker using innovative processes, the latest technology, and a caring staff to lead the NEMT industry in performance. For example, the performance goal for missed trips is <0.2%. Alivi achieves a record low 0.07%.

Alivi’s technology offers real-time GPS monitoring which allows live tracking, avoiding unnecessary late, and missed trips. Alivi’s network includes different types of transportation providers, drivers, and programs, including Commercial Transportation Providers, Transportation Network Companies (i.e., Uber, Lyft), Mass Transit, Mileage Reimbursement Programs, and more.


Are you thinking about changing NEMT vendors?

Alivi helps health plans and state agencies provide the highest NEMT performance. We even guarantee a smooth implementation!

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