Sometimes when you need medical treatment, you can’t drive yourself. Maybe it’s due to a chronic medical condition you have. Or maybe it’s an emergency and you need help getting to a hospital or other medical facility. Or taking a cab or Uber isn’t safe for whatever reason.
Situations like these are what ambulance services and other medical transport services are for. So a common question many people have is, “Does Medicare cover Medical Transportation?”
In this article, we answer that question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of medical transportation, as well as other helpful info.
Does Medicare Cover Medical Transportation?
The short answer is it depends. In most cases, Medicare will not cover the cost of non-emergency medical transportation services. That said, there may be some situations where you can get these costs covered.
In the case of an emergency, however, Medicare usually will provide coverage. Below we’ll take a closer look at this to see when you might be able to get Medicare to pay for your medical transportation service.
Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) does not provide coverage for medical transportation services in non-emergency situations. At least most of the time.
However, there are some instances in which Medicare will cover them. Coverage for any non-emergency transportation is provided by Medicare Part B. For Medicare Part B to cover the costs of non-emergency transportation, specific criteria have to be met, such as:
- Your doctor orders that it is medically necessary for you to be transported by an ambulance
- You are diagnosed with a condition and having transport through other means could endanger your health
When it comes to emergency medical transport, Medicare will pretty much always provide coverage. This is usually for transport to the closest hospital to where you were injured or got sick. However, if you require special care, or the closest hospital is full, then Medicare will cover transportation to a hospital farther away.
Medicare Part B will cover 80% of the costs for emergency transport.
Medicare Part B may also provide coverage for air ambulance transportation, but not most of the time. Certain criteria must also be followed for Medicare Part B to cover an air ambulance transport cost. Those include:
- If it is an emergency
- If there is a great distance or obstacle between the location you are in and the location of the appropriate medical facility and you need immediate transport
Medicare Part B will cover 80% of the costs for an air ambulance service.
However, some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) provide coverage for non-emergency transport. Medicare Advantage plans will also cover emergency transport listed above. Medicare Advantage plans 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 Medical Transport Costs?
Here is a list of the costs of non-emergency transportation:
- Ambulance – $25 to $45 base rate + $3 – $10 per mile
- Wheelchair-based transportation – $45 to $100 base rate + $3 – $10 per mile
- Stretcher-based transportation – $45 to $250 base rate + $3 – $10 per mile
Some ambulance services do not charge fees. However, those who charge fees may cost from less than $250 to more than $1,200.
Typical costs of air ambulance services can cost from $12,000 to $25,000 or even more.
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 mattresses?