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does Medicare cover Ambulance transport

Does Medicare Cover Ambulance Transport?

Ambulance Services are not just for emergency transportation. They can also provide medical care for a patient on the way to a hospital or other care facility in non-emergency situations.

Though some ambulance services do not charge for their service (some are paid for by taxes), others can be quite expensive.  

If you need an ambulance, a common question many people have is, “Does Medicare cover Ambulance Transport?” In this article, we answer this question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of ambulance transport, as well as other helpful info.

Does Medicare Cover Ambulance Transport?

The short answer is yes; Medicare will cover the cost of ambulance transport. But not 100% of the time. As is often the case with Medicare, certain conditions have to be met in order for Medicare to pay for your ambulance transport. Below we look at what these are so you know what to expect.

Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) provides coverage for ambulance transport. Medicare Part B covers the cost of ambulance transport for both emergency and non-emergency situations. Coverage for ambulance services when it is in a state of emergency falls under Medicare Part B.

Aside from that, Medicare Part B may also cover ambulance services if the sick person needs ambulance transportation because other means of transportation will cause them harm. Situations of non-emergency transport may include if the patient needs dialysis on the way. However, you will need to provide Medicare a prescription from your healthcare provider stating why you need a non-emergency ambulance transport.

Once approved by Medicare Part B, it will cover 80% of a ground ambulance transport’s cost.

Air Ambulance Transportation

In some cases, Medicare Part B may cover air ambulance but only considered medically necessary. Medicare Part B will only provide coverage for an air ambulance for the following situations:

  • Your location is not accessible by ground ambulance
  • There is a great distance or obstacles like traffic or rough terrain from where you are and the appropriate facility where you should be

If you are residing in a rural location, Medicare Part B will automatically cover the cost. However, you must be able to meet the following requirements for Medicare Part B to cover your air ambulance transport. Such conditions consist of:

  • If your healthcare provider orders it, stating why you need an air ambulance transport. Acceptable reasons may include time and/or geographical factors
  • If your air ambulance that will provide service and transport meets Medicare-approved requirements

Medicare Part B will cover 80% of the cost of air ambulance transport.

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) also provide coverage for ambulance services. They cover everything Original Medicare covers and some additional benefits. However, out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the plan provided by the plan providers.

How Much Does An Ambulance Transport Cost?

Ambulance services can be free as we mentioned earlier. However, you will often have to pay for the service. The cost for ambulance services can vary widely anywhere between $400 to $1,200 or more. It depends largely on how far you have to go and what kind of care you need along the way.

Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.

Additional Info on Medicare Coverage

This article is part of our series on “What does Medicare cover?”

Also, you can check out other articles in this series including: Does Medicare cover LASIK eye surgery?

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