Published On: Tue, Apr 10th, 2018

Uber and Lyft to Benefit from Medicare Advantage Expansion

Rideshare drivers and the companies they work for stand to benefit from Medicare Advantage’s benefit expansion. New rules, which aim to keep  costs down and include supplement benefits to Advantage plans, may see patients take an Uber driver to a clinic, doctor or pharmacy.

Health insurance companies are discussing ride-sharing companies and the benefits they may offer to seniors.

Supplemental benefits may offer a better, improved quality of life. The new definition, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), broadens the “primary health related” definition.

photo/ Public domain pictures via Pixabay

“Under the new definition, the agency will allow supplemental benefits if they compensate for physical impairments, diminish the impact of injuries or health conditions, and/or reduce avoidable emergency room utilization,” claims CMS.

An increase in services to assist recipients may include transportation to medical appointments. Seniors that have to rely on friends or family to bring them to appointments are more likely to skip or miss appointments.

Medicare Advantage may soon allow Uber and Lyft into bids offering a major boost to the companies and their drivers. Lyft driver promos increased on the news that the company was working with Blue Cross to offer ride-sharing as part of a benefits package.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced in March 2018 that they have expanded their partnership with Lyft to provide transport for enrollees that lacked transportation. Blue Cross Blue Shield announced last year that they partnered with Lyft to provide “no-cost” transport to increase healthcare appointment compliance among enrollees.

The new partnership will provide transport to patients that need to visit their local CVS Health pharmacy or Walgreens Boots Alliance.

CMS views transportation as foundational to address social health determinants. Lyft states, “This new flexibility will allow us to partner even more dynamically with MA plans, to not just help seniors suffering from chronic health conditions get to their health appointments, but to more broadly leverage our platform to remove transportation barriers and encourage healthy and active living.”

Additional services must be submitted to CMS by June 4 and approved.

Companies hope that if ride-sharing becomes a service under Medicare Advantage, they’ll be able to improve outcomes for seniors while also reducing costs.

Government-backed programs suffer from significant transportation costs. Ridesharing partnerships are expected to ease these transportation burdens.

Lyft has been a major partner of health insurance companies. The ridesharing company has went a step further and offers a web portal called “Lyft Concierge” that seniors can use to schedule their rides. The web portal is meant to offer greater access to seniors who may not have mobile phones or an app.

Lyft notes that 3.6 million Americans don’t have the transportation they need to get to and from their doctor’s appointments.

Uber Health, a service offered by Uber, claims that they’re working with 100 health care organizations across the country to offer transportation to health facilities and doctors for seniors.

Medicare Advantage has expanded in recent years, with 19 million people, or 33% of all Medicare beneficiaries, part of a Medicare Advantage plan.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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