Medicare Advantage and Dialysis Transportation

Zack Worsham

For many patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure, finding reliable transportation is more than just moving from point A to point B. Transportation services play an important role in making it to and from crucial dialysis treatments. Although Medicare traditionally covers several benefits across the continuum of care, it hasn’t covered the cost of transportation for medical appointments, leaving many people in need of a ride to the dialysis clinic in a difficult position.

Last year, we learned that 33% of the 3,148 Medicare Advantage plans offer a transportation benefit to their members compared to 22% in 2019 (Kaiser Family Foundation). Ultimately, 92% of MA members have access to a plan that includes a transportation benefit. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says that number is set to increase, estimating that 83,000 people with ESRD will enroll in MA plans between 2021 and 2026.

Previously, members with ESRD were only permitted to enroll in MA plans in limited circumstances. There’s good news though! Starting next year, patients with ESRD will be eligible to enroll in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.

Approximately 90% of patients with ESRD travel to a dialysis center three times a week for treatment. Public transportation is an option for many ESRD patients, but transit fares can add up, and it isn’t always practical, depending on where you live. It’s also worth considering that patients with kidney disease are often fatigued after dialysis, which makes driving infeasible. The ultimate reality for patients with ESRD is that they will likely choose an MA plan with a supplemental transportation benefit.

As your partner in transportation, Roundtrip is an excellent strategic choice as you design your benefit for your members. As the one-stop-shop for transportation, our platform allows you to provide all levels of transportation for your members. That means Roundtrip allows you to order rideshare, medical sedans, wheelchair vans, stretcher vehicles, and ALS/BLS ambulances, all in one place.

With our platform’s EHR and CAD system integrations, Roundtrip is designed to make transportation easy for both healthcare organizations and transportation companies. You should also know that adding a transportation benefit is known to have a positive impact on your members’ experience, and has the potential to boost your star rating as a result.

At the end of the day, dialysis patients will choose the plan that works best for them. If you are considering adding a transportation benefit, we can help you design the best option for you and your members.