Medical Transportation Costs For Elders – Is It Covered Under Medicare?

Updated on February 5, 2022
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Emergency carriers, either by ground or air, are generally covered under the Medicare health program. As long as specific requirements are met, your insurance may also cover non-emergency transit.

In this article, we will be discussing how the National Health Insurance program covers medical transportation costs.

Transportation Coverage

Under Part B Medicare, ambulance services are generally covered when they deem medically necessary. It is worth noting here that insurance would cover up to 80% of the transportation costs. The remaining 20% is generally paid as coinsurance by the beneficiary.

It is also noteworthy that coinsurance is usually applicable when the beneficiary has paid the Part B deductibles in full. Typically, medical transportation services are covered for transfers from home to healthcare facility and back. Also, transfers between any two healthcare facilities are covered under some conditions. For example, patient transfers for renal dialysis can be covered under insurance.

Emergency Transport Covered Under Medicare

Part B medicare generally covers ambulance services under the following circumstances:

  • If there is a sudden medical crisis
  • If there are severe risks to the patient’s health.
  • If it is not possible to move the patient from one location to another without the help of emergency services.
  • If the patient has lost too much blood, is unconscious, or is in shock.
  • If the patient is receiving insurance-covered treatment.
  • If the patient is commuting between locations that are covered under Medicare guidelines.
  • If the ambulance service meets the insurance requirements.
  • If it is medically necessary to use an emergency vehicle.

Suppose the ambulance trip is prearranged, and the patient is not in immediate danger. In that case, it might not be considered a crisis. Subsequently, the insurer may need to refer to other guidelines.

Non-Emergency Transport Covered Under Medicare

The following non-emergency medical carrier services are usually covered under Medicare:

  • If the patient is unable to stand, walk, or move without assistance.
  • If the patient cannot sit in a wheelchair.
  • If the patient requires constant monitoring of the vitals during transport.

Apart from this, under some circumstances, your insurance may still cover non-emergency trips. For example, suppose a patient is living in a skilled nursing facility. In that case, your policy may also cover the cost of transport.

However, in such cases, a doctor’s letter is generally needed. In other words, the doctor would need to provide a letter to advise that travel is necessary, but the patient needs assistance.

Also, if the patient only has Part A Medicare, the cost would then be covered by the skilled nursing facility.

Medicare Does Not Cover Ambulettes Costs

Suppose you don’t know what an ambulette is. In that case, it is a non-emergency medical transport vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair. Since it is usually not required for any immediate or necessary reason, Medicare generally does not cover its costs.

Air Medical Transport

In some cases, the patients may also need to be transported in an airplane or a helicopter. Usually, the conditions are rapid and can escalate pretty fast in such cases.

Notably, air transport is sought in dire emergencies primarily. But, you may also seek them for other reasons. You can Choose ACC Medlink for all non-emergency and emergency reasons. Nonetheless, your policy would usually cover your air transportation costs for emergency reasons.

Help With Costs

There are several programs under Medicare that can help with transportation costs. But, it is to be kept in mind that there are specific eligibility criteria too.

Nevertheless, here are the programs that can help with the medical transport costs:


Medicaid is available to few individuals that meet the criteria. And that too with limited resources. That being said, Medicaid can help pay for insurance costs, including copayments and deductibles. Besides, in some cases, Medicaid may also pay for services that general policy does not usually cover. These may include dental care and transport costs.

Medicare Savings Programs

Another program that can help with the costs is a Medicare Savings Program. There are generally four types of savings programs, and each of them offers different benefits.

  • A Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program helps with the payments of premiums for both Part A and B. The program can also help to pay for copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
  • A Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program helps with the payments of premiums for Part A and B only.
  • A Qualifying Individual Program helps cover premiums for Part B only.
  • A Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals Program helps pay the premiums for Part A only.

Summing It Up

Medical transport by road or air is generally covered under Part B Medicare for an unpleasant crisis. However, for non-emergency vehicles, the coverage largely depends on circumstances. Most of the time, the patient would need to produce a doctor’s letter to claim policy coverage. Also, additional support may be available to individuals with specific financial and medical needs.


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