More people are flocking to Medicare Advantage plans, creating tremendous opportunity for managed care organizations (MCO). With increased public demand, however, comes more competition in this health care segment. On average, Medicare beneficiaries have 24 Medicare Advantage programs to choose from.
The only way to distinguish yourself from the glut of Medicare Advantage plans is to provide services that improve health outcomes for patients and drastically enhance the patient experience. Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) technology helps MCOs stand out in a crowded market.
For decades, medical transportation services have been a core component of Medicaid benefits. However, those services continue to be threatened by government cutbacks and federal waivers that absolve state Medicaid agencies of the responsibility to provide NEMT options.
More cash-strapped state governments could consider taking similar action in the years ahead, cutting essential services for some of their most at-risk residents. Medicare organizations could follow suit as well, scaling back NEMT services or removing them entirely to reduce costs. With limited options, many individuals may choose to simply skip their medical appointments.
NPR chronicled the experience of one wheelchair-bound resident whose chronic condition required routine checkups and medical appointments. Lacking NEMT services, she was faced with choosing between two impractical (for her) transportation options: spend $70 on a round-trip cab ride or travel two miles to the nearest bus stop. Since neither was a consistently viable solution, she often skipped her sessions.
Medicare Advantage programs can provide NEMT services to at-risk populations, improving their members’ health and bolstering their own retention rates. While other organizations are busy cutting services, MCOs can fill those gaps with first-rate, reliable NEMT solutions.
Medicare members face several challenges getting to their medical appointments on time — or at all. Beneficiaries living in rural areas have extremely limited options, potentially relying solely on NEMT services to transport them to dialysis or physical therapy sessions as well as medical consultations.
While those living in cities or other urban areas will likely have far more sources of transportation available, they may not be consistent or practical. Someone in a wheelchair may not be able to easily get to a train or bus stop, especially in bad weather. NEMT provides an essential service to these individuals, giving them a safe, reliable and pleasant way to get to their medical appointments.
Wheelchair-accessible vans and even fully outfitted medical vehicles can be made available for those members who need them.
Medicare organizations can further differentiate their programs by incorporating advanced NEMT technology into their offerings. Not all beneficiaries prefer scheduling trips over the phone, for instance. Mobile applications and web-based portals provide more options to an older demographic that is becoming more comfortable with the latest technology.
Adding ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft to your list of available transportation options is another way to stand out from the competition. Ride sharing at times can be a more affordable alternative to taxis, and many members may already be familiar with these services. The important thing is to always give beneficiaries options, because no two situations are the same and everyone has their own unique transportation needs. For instance, some beneficiaries require specialized vehicles like wheelchair vans to safely and comfortably get to their destinations. Ride sharing services alone won’t be able to help these individuals. Working with an NEMT manager that supports a wide variety of transportation choices helps deliver a superior member experience.
As long as those options are uniformly reliable and safe, your Medicare Advantage program can continue to provide a great member experience.
Are you interested in learning more about how Modivcare can help differentiate your organization? Request a demo