Reliable transportation when you are on in-center hemodialysis is a vital part of staying on top of your treatments. Even if you are able to drive yourself to dialysis, or get help from family or friends, there might come a time when you need additional help to get to your dialysis center, and it’s good to know what options are available. This article will cover two main options you may not know about, and suggestions for finding discounted car transportation when needed. If at any time you're unsure of how to get to and from dialysis, speak to your care coordinator, social worker or dialysis center, they will help you arrange transport. This is also a good reference for caregivers to understand the options available.
Wheelchair Van Transport
This transport service is exactly what you would imagine. It's a van equipped to transport individuals by wheelchair. The van will be equipped with a lift and have an additional wheelchair available if needed. There will be one attendant that drives you to and from your appointment. This type of transport would be appropriate if you don't need any medical help or monitoring and can tolerate being seated in the wheelchair during your trip. Your attendant will typically assist you getting into your wheelchair, into the van, and into the dialysis center and dialysis chair after your weight is taken. You might have the same attendant picking you up for the trip home as well depending on their schedule. Since only one person is with you, your chair will be secured in the van while they drive. Depending on how the roads are maintained in your area it could be a bumpy ride while in the wheelchair, expecting this ahead of time will help you prepare.
Gurney Van or Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance
If you need this level of care during transport, chances are it will be arranged for you. This transport is "full service" in the sense that it is staffed by two Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). You will be transported on a gurney and will have the ability to lay flat or with your head up. They can pick you up directly from your home or facility and take you directly into the dialysis center and to your dialysis chair. Even if you’re able to be seated, you will have to lay down on a gurney for this type of ride. This would be ideal for people that are non-ambulatory (unable to walk) or may need oxygen on the way to or from their appointment. It would also be a good choice for people that have other medical equipment with them. With BLS transports, you will have one person in the back of the ambulance with you. They will check your blood pressure, heart rate, and make sure you're OK to and from your appointment. If you have any complications they can easily take you to the hospital to get you what you need!
Transportation payment support
If you are unable to ride in a personal vehicle Medicaid and Medicare can provide some or all of your transportation costs depending on the situation. If you have additional insurance, check with your insurance provider to see what is covered under your plan.
Medicaid covers the cost of emergency medical transportation for eligible individuals. An emergency is when your medical needs are immediate. You do not need pre-approval for emergency transportation. If you need a ride for a non-emergency like to a medical appointment, you might be able to receive “non-emergency medical transportation” coverage. Medicaid coverage for these rides differ depending on your situation and needs and what state you live in; for example you might need to get your State Medicaid agency’s approval to qualify for a ride. What is considered medically necessary and what circumstances require transportation is determined by the individual states. The transportation coverage can vary and may include via car, bus, subway, or taxi depending on your states program.
Since every situation is different, contact your insurance provider or use the resources below to get more information and find a state contact to ask your specific questions.
Local discounted taxi transportation
Depending on where you are located, you might be given a discounted rate for a regular taxi service to your dialysis center. Speak with your social worker and local taxi companies to learn if this is offered in your area.
Remember that you are supported through this CKD journey, and plenty of options are available to make sure you don't miss any of your treatments. Understanding your transportation options can help you become more empowered over your own health care management!
Medicaid coverage for non-emergency transportation
Medicare coverage for non-emergency transportation
Let Medicaid Give You a Ride Fact Sheet