- Payers looking to help members overcome negative social determinants of health, such as transportation issues, may be able to offer beneficiaries a ridesharing benefit to improve patient engagement.
The emergence of healthcare partnerships and payers leveraging technologies like Lyft and Uber have translated into improvements in healthcare access for beneficiaries. Healthcare partnerships between payers and providers with ridesharing services have also created healthcare cost-savings.
Since May 2017, Medicare Advantage (MA) provider Cigna-HealthSpring’s partnership with Lyft has provided 14,500 beneficiaries with rides to physician offices, pharmacies, and other care services.
The service is for MA members in a non-emergency situation, and is only available to Cigna-HealthSpring customers with plans that have supplemental non-emergent medical transportation benefits through a program called Access2Care.
Cigna-HealthSpring additionally reported that 92 percent of MA members using the service have made it their preferred transportation option. Participants wait less than eight minutes, on average, for a ride.
“Transportation can be an obstacle for older Americans in getting the care they need, which results in delayed care, worsening conditions and higher costs,” said Brian Evanko, president of Cigna’s Government Business, which includes Cigna-HealthSpring.
“By providing a convenient, timely, safe ride, we can ensure at-risk customers keep their appointments and get the medications they need to better manage their chronic conditions or prevent them from developing in the first place.”
Transportation is such a significant social determinant of health that hospitals are also addressing non-emergency transportation for patients that have trouble finding a medical transport service.
Research from Harvard Medical School found that non-emergency ride sharing could help curb $2.9 billion in spending for non-medical transportation.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) found that 3.6 million individuals do not access medical care because they experience transportation barriers, and 4 percent of all children miss a medical appointment because of transportation issues.
“Although hospitals and health systems traditionally have not focused on transportation issues within their purview of care delivery, there is a growing recognition that improving transportation access and support for patients can help improve health outcomes and lower health costs,” AHA added.
AHA advised stakeholders to evaluate the community needs of patients through the use of community health needs assessments.
Lyft is a medical ridesharing leader, and has established many partnerships with leading payers and healthcare organizations.
A Lyft and BCBS nationwide partnership is taking a step towards improving transportation by analyzing population health data for 106 million BCBS beneficiaries.
"Many Americans live in areas where medical care is beyond the reach of walking, biking, or public transportation,” said BCBSA Chief Medical Officer and President of the BCBS Institute Trent Haywood, MD.
“As a result, they struggle to access critical health care services, even when they have health insurance. We are committed to addressing issues like transportation that are inextricably linked to health outcomes, yet can't be tackled through healthcare resources alone.”
Lyft also previously established two partnerships including AMR and LogistiCare aimed at reducing transportation issues for 4.4 million beneficiaries.
Payers that work with a ridesharing company may be able to help more the needle overcoming social health determinants that contribute to unnecessary healthcare costs and prevent beneficiaries from receiving healthcare services.