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Do I Need Medical Transport Insurance?

Discover your options for protecting yourself from outrageous bills associated with medical emergency transport.


Published on December 7th, 2023 in Medical Evacuation, Travel Insurance

There are (at least) two things every person dreads:

  • Getting injured or sick
  • Losing money

And of course, these two events often coincide with one another!

Whether it’s a slip-and-fall, an accident while traveling, or an unexpected illness, health problems can sometimes require emergency medical transportation. And after the shock of the injury has worn off, many people experience another shock in the form of an outrageous bill for their medical transportation.

And since nobody likes to pay a huge medical bill, many folks look for ways to protect themselves from these types of financial losses, and this is where medical transport insurance comes into play.

In this post, we’ll examine the general landscape of paying for medical transportation, how medical transport insurance works, and various options for protecting yourself from financial losses related to health emergencies.

Let’s get started.

What is medical transport insurance?

Medical transport insurance for individuals is a type of insurance coverage that helps cover the costs associated with medical transportation services. This type of insurance policy is designed to assist individuals who may require specialized transportation to access medical care or treatment. It can provide financial protection in situations where regular transportation methods (such as private vehicles or public transportation) are not suitable due to the person’s medical condition.

Note that this type of insurance policy would generally be separate from your standard health insurance or Medicare policy.

Does my insurance cover emergency medical transportation?

In short; probably not. One of the primary reasons that medical transport insurance exists is because regular health insurance plans typically do not cover emergency medical services; at least not in full. Many medical plans will cover a portion of the costs, but you’ll be on the hook for the rest.

Related reading: Travel Insurance vs. Health Insurance

How much does medical transportation cost?

This is a difficult question to answer, as there are several variables that must be addressed in order to reach an accurate figure.

  • Distance: The distance between the pickup location and the destination is a significant factor in determining the cost. Longer distances generally result in higher transportation costs.
  • Type of vehicle: The type of vehicle used for medical transportation can vary. Basic ambulance services tend to be less expensive than more specialized transport options, such as air ambulances or critical care transport units.
  • Level of care: The level of medical care required during transportation can impact the cost. Basic life support (BLS) transportation, which involves providing basic medical monitoring and care, is typically less expensive than advanced life support (ALS) or critical care transport, which may require specialized medical equipment and staff.
  • Location: Costs can also vary depending on the region and local healthcare market. In areas with a high cost of living, transportation services may be more expensive.
  • Insurance Coverage: Your medical insurance may cover some or all of the costs of ground medical transportation, depending on your policy and the medical necessity of the transport.
  • Additional services: If additional services are needed during transport, such as a nurse escort or the use of specialized medical equipment, these can increase the overall cost.
  • Emergency vs. non-emergency: Emergency medical transportation, such as ambulance services for urgent medical situations, may be more expensive than non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) for scheduled medical appointments or non-urgent situations.
  • Distance and time: Some transportation providers may charge based on both the distance traveled and the time required for the journey.

That said, your costs may range from zero because you’re fully covered, to more than a hundred thousand because your emergency medical services were not.

Does Medicare cover emergency medical transportation?

Medicare will generally cover 80% of the approved amount for ambulance services via Medicare Part B, but the patient is responsible for the remaining 20%, in addition to any applicable deductible. However, if you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, it may help cover some or all of these costs.

Also, medical transport patients will also need to meet various criteria, including:

  • Medical necessity: Medicare will cover ambulance services when they are deemed medically necessary. This means that the patient’s condition must be such that transportation by any other means could endanger the patient’s health.
  • Origin and destination: Medicare covers ambulance transportation from the patient’s current location to the nearest appropriate medical facility that can provide the necessary care. In some cases, Medicare may also cover transportation back to the patient’s home after receiving care.
  • Supplier certification: The ambulance service provider must be Medicare-certified for Medicare to cover the service.
  • Documentation: The ambulance service provider is required to document the medical necessity of the transportation and maintain proper records.

For more info, please visit Medicare.gov.

Where to find medical transport protection

If you’re looking to add some protection against the potential financial consequences due to medical transport, you have a few options.

Your insurance company

First up, you’ll want to check your current health insurance policy to find out what your coverage is in terms of emergency medical transportation. As discussed, it is likely limited, but it’s still worth a phone call as you may have this protection at no cost.

If you are an employee who is on a plan from your place of business, check with your HR staff to see what types of insurance coverages they offer.

Dedicated medical transportation insurance

As discussed earlier, there are companies that offer this type of insurance specifically. One example is MASA Medical Transport Solutions, who offers medical transport plans.

Travel assistance providers

If your concern for medical transportation is connected to your travel plans, you might actually want to consider a travel assistance plan (as opposed to another insurance policy). With a travel assistance membership from Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+), you can protect yourself not only from the financial burden of emergency medical transport, but also the logistics.

No matter where you’re traveling in the world, if you have an emergency that requires specialty medical transport, EA+ has a team of highly skilled professionals at the ready to ensure you receive proper medical care and are provided necessary transportation home—at no additional cost besides your annual membership fee.

For more information about how a travel assistance membership from EA+ can help protect you with emergency medical evacuation and transportation, please visit our website or call: 866-863-4460.

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