- Rideshare company Lyft is expanding its collaboration with the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Institute to offer non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to Medicare Advantage members.
In a blog post on the company website, Lyft also announced an enhanced partnership with LogistiCare, the nation’s largest NEMT provider, to include certain Humana Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in its transportation offerings.
“One of the key social determinants of health is access to services and programs that promote health and wellbeing,” Lyft said. “Transportation is the key to unlocking that access — and ridesharing is the most cost effective, reliable, safe, and convenient option.”
More than a quarter of respondents to a recent Lyft report said that ridesharing helped them get to an appointment they would have otherwise missed, while 36 percent say that the ability to get to primary care and specialty appointments reduced their utilization of urgent care.
In April of 2018, CMS announced that Medicare Advantage plans could include non-emergency transport as a covered benefit for individuals without reliable access to public or private transportation.
At the end of January 2019, CMS doubled down on its intention to allow MA plans to offer transportation and other benefits intended to address the social determinants of health.
Lyft and Uber have both entered the healthcare industry with rideshare options in recent years, collaborating with technology companies, providers, and payers to ensure patients can access care.
Lyft notes that early results from industry research indicate that ridesharing can improve quality of life for seniors and create more positive patient experiences.
A recent article in the Health Affairs blog explains that when provider network CareMore Health added Lyft to its Medicare Advantage offering, ride costs decreased by 39 percent and wait times for ride arrivals dropped by 45 percent. Patient satisfaction exceeded 95 percent.
Lyft started collaborating with the BCBS Institute, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), in 2017 by providing rides to individuals living in “transportation deserts.”
“We extended this offering in 2018 to include rides to and from pharmacies for prescription medication pick-up,” the company explained.
“And now, with the new benefit design flexibility in MA, BCBS Institute will expand the partnership to members of certain BCBS MA plans beginning later this year — providing rides to-and-from medical appointments, the pharmacy and fitness centers. This is big news for seniors, as Lyft is able to provide transportation for a broader range of health needs.”
Dr. Trent Haywood, president of the BCBS Institute, is eager to continue working with the company to close a critical gap in patient access.
“Lyft has been an incredible partner as we’ve worked to leverage their platform to deliver innovative services that improve the health and satisfaction of our members, while reducing healthcare costs,” he said.
“We're eager to expand our already successful partnership with Lyft from our commercial plans to some of our BCBS MA plans this summer - providing even more members with improved access to services that will help improve their health and quality of life.”
In addition to its work with BCBS, Lyft is also building out more collaborative opportunities with Humana and its MA segment.
Using its existing partnership with LogistiCare as a springboard, Lyft will work with Humana to offer rides to and from medical appointments, and also to pharmacies and fitness centers.
“At Humana, we understand that health is about more than what happens in the doctor's office - many other social factors, like transportation, can have a direct impact on health and well-being,” said Alan Wheatley, president of Humana's Retail Segment.
“Our goal in working with LogistiCare and Lyft is to innovate in ways that translate directly into improved health and a better healthcare experience for the Medicare Advantage members we serve.”
The rideshare company is also implementing upgrades to its Concierge feature, which allows people without smartphones to interact with the company. Less than half of individuals over the age of 65 use smartphones, Lyft says, so alternate ways of ordering rides is essential for connecting with this population.
“We’re constantly working to elevate the Lyft Concierge experience to meet the needs of our healthcare partners and their patients,” said Megan Callahan, Vice President of Healthcare at Lyft, in an accompanying post.
“To this end, we’ve rebuilt the product from the ground up to provide a simpler ride management experience, landline options, and more accessibility across all devices.”
The Concierge feature allows ride coordinators, including care managers or nurses in healthcare organizations, to order rides and monitor the patient’s progress to ensure users receive the right services for their needs.
“This upgraded experience doubles down on our commitment to healthcare. It puts the needs of healthcare providers and patients first, creating a ride solution that supports their unique and evolving needs,” Lyft said.
As the Medicare Advantage segment grows in popularity, value-add benefits such as transportation services may help payers distinguish themselves in a highly competitive environment. Working with companies such as Lyft and Uber to integrate innovative services may be the key to retaining market share.
“We know that scaling investments and partnerships for innovative transportation models will improve health outcomes, decrease costs for patients, payers, and the government, and combat social isolation,” said Lyft.
“We look forward to partnering with MA plans around the country to leverage the flexibility provided by CMS to test and make these new models a reality for patients.”