Non-Emergency Medical Transportation: What Is It and How Do You Book It?

No matter how crucial they may be, getting to medical appointments can be a challenge for elderly, sick, or disabled people. If driving isn’t an option, and public transportation or taxi services can’t provide the proper assistance, people must rely on non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services. 

Both public entities and private companies help people get to doctor’s visits and other health-related appointments when they have no other way to get there.  

Find out how non-emergency medical transportation services work and how you can use them to get the medical care you or your loved one needs.

What Is Non-Emergency Medical Transportation?

NEMT services help you access healthcare when you can’t get to medical appointments and treatments by yourself. 

You may be unable to get yourself to an appointment because:

  • You don’t have a driver’s license
  • You need special transportation due to wheelchair accessibility
  • You don’t have access to a vehicle
  • A disability prevents you from traveling alone
  • You just don’t feel like driving

No matter the reason, non-emergency medical transportation can get you to a doctor’s office, a hospital, or other treatment facilities.

Non-emergency patient transport is designed to be used in non-emergency situations. They can be especially useful when you need to get to a scheduled appointment for a medical check-up, treatment, or even for a vaccination. 

Non-emergency medical transportation services offer many flexible transportation options. They are a good solution for those who require specialized transport based on needs, such as vans with wheelchair lifts or other special features.

You should not use NEMT services in emergencies. If you are in an emergency, dial 911 to request an ambulance so that an experienced emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, or other qualified professional can help.

How to Decide If It’s an Emergency or Not an Emergency?

In most cases, a non-emergency medical vehicle is not an ambulance, and drivers are typically not licensed as EMTs. They’re best used for scheduled medical appointments.

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing an emergency and require immediate medical attention, you must call 911 immediately.

Emergencies are situations that pose an immediate health risk and require urgent attention to prevent the problem from getting worse. Emergencies are unexpected and typically dangerous, calling for prompt attention.

Who Needs Non-Emergency Medical Transportation?

There are several situations where someone may need the assistance of non-emergency patient transport services, including:

  • The person requires a wheelchair and cannot be transported using a standard motor vehicle.
  • The person requires the continued use of large or complex medical equipment, such as a ventilator, during travel.
  • The person must be constantly monitored during travel.

Typically, a person that utilizes NEMT services is either elderly, disabled, or suffering from a severe ongoing illness.  

Types of Medical Transportation

There are several different non-emergency medical transportation options out there. Different services with different vehicles, equipment, and qualified staff can cover unique patient needs. 

When searching for the right medical transportation service, it is vital to understand the differences and choose the right one.

There are six types of non-emergency medical transport:

1) Wheelchair Access Transport

This non-emergency medical transport is perfect for patients who use wheelchairs and require an aide or an escort, but no additional medical care.

2) BLS Transport

Basic life support (BLS) transport is available for patients who require additional aid during transport, such as regular monitoring or oxygen intake.

3) ALS Transport

Advanced life support (ALS) transport is for patients who require intensive medical assistance, such as EKG monitoring. ALS transport is typically staffed by EMTs or paramedics and has specialized medical equipment on board.

4) Critical Care Transport

Critical care transport is available to patients on a ventilator or a pump. Typically, critical care non-emergency medical transport needs paramedics with specialized training.

5) Bariatric Transport

Non-emergency medical bariatric transportation provides transport for patients weighing more than 400 pounds safely and comfortably. Bariatric transport vehicles come with special equipment, including wider cots and stretchers.  

6) Dialysis Transport

Another common type of non-emergency medical transportation service is dialysis transport

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Cost

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that Medicare and Medicaid programs cover some NEMT services, but not all. Most private insurers don’t cover NEMT.

The cost of non-emergency medical transportation services will often vary based on the following factors: 

  • The provider
  • Geographical location
  • Type of service required (wheelchair access, advanced life support transport, basic life support transport, etc.)
  • The day and time of transport. 
  • On top of a base fee, transport providers will usually charge a per-mile fee. 
  • You can also expect the medical transport service to charge for wait times on round-trip services. 

Thankfully, the cost of non-emergency medical transportation services is covered by Medicare or Medicaid in most instances.

How to Book Medical Transportation?

Most areas offer government-run medical transportation services that are accessible and affordable. 

Medicaid requires that non-emergency medical transportation providers offer all non-emergency transport options to Medicaid beneficiaries, allowing patients to choose the method that is right for them.

Non-emergency medical transportation providers must provide the same service to all patients, no matter their income or social status. State and local governments may also provide oversight of non-emergency medical transportation services.

Some states require preauthorization from a doctor for your non-emergency medical transportation services to be covered by Medicare or Medicaid. However, in most cases, you’ll just need to prove that you traveled to a medical appointment to get reimbursed.

For more information about public non-emergency medical transportation services, review your Medicare or Medicaid policy, call your state’s insurance office, or discuss medical transport with your healthcare provider to better understand the options that are available to you.

Book Non-Emergency Medical Transport in Chicago

At Elite Ambulance, we’re proud to serve the Chicago community with non-emergency medical transportation.

We have the equipment and trained EMTs and paramedics who can assist you or your loved one to a medical appointment. Our services include basic life support, advanced life support, specialty care, critical care, bariatric, wheelchair, and dialysis transportation.

Trust Elite Ambulance to provide a safe and comfortable journey for you and your loved ones.

Contact us today to book non-emergency medical transportation in Chicago!

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