Dialysis is a common procedure that can improve the health and well-being of some individuals diagnosed with kidney disease. These patients understand the importance of making it to their regular dialysis appointments. Unfortunately, transportation can be a factor for some individuals who need to receive regular dialysis treatments, especially as they age. Many seniors find that they aren’t able to drive themselves, so they rely on family, friends, public transportation and ride sharing to get where they need to go.
Does Medicare Cover Transportation to Dialysis?
While Medicare coverage provides benefits for a wide range of care, services, and supplies, it does not cover the cost of transportation to or from medical appointments. The only exception to this is if a Medicare recipient requires transport by ambulance in the event of an emergency. As a result, dialysis patients will not be provided transportation through Medicare benefits, nor will they receive reimbursement for transport to or from a medical appointment, even if the appointment is for a medically necessary treatment like dialysis.
Alternative Medical Transportation Solutions
Although Medicare coverage may not pay for transportation to medical appointments, there are a number of free or low-cost alternatives that may be accessible depending on where you live. In many urban and suburban areas, dialysis centers themselves will offer transportation services to patients who are unable to get back and forth to appointments. An extra fee may be involved, and because Medicare benefits don’t apply, the patient will likely be responsible for payment; however, some dialysis treatment centers offer this service at no additional charge. To learn more, speak to the administrative office of your dialysis clinic.
In rural areas, dialysis patients may be able to receive transportation through county services. Many areas have specific care services available for seniors who can’t access transportation for medical appointments, and these are often available at no charge. Residency restrictions may apply, so contact your local administrative office to inquire about available options.
Many charitable and religious groups will also offer ride sharing services to those in need. In most situations, you will not need to be a member of a specific religious group or affiliated with a particular belief system in order to take advantage of these services, but certain restrictions may apply. If you have questions, contact some houses of faith in your area to inquire about medical transportation services. Even if these organizations don’t offer such services in your area, they may be able to point you in the direction of an organization that does.
Finally, you may also be able to access local transportation services if you currently receive care from a home health provider. These providers are usually private businesses that offer help with everyday tasks, including light housework and meal preparation. If you already receive services from such a provider, you might also be eligible to receive transportation to and from medical appointments. In these situations, distance and location restrictions may apply as well as time limitations for appointments.
Discuss Your Needs With Your Physician
It would also be a good idea to discuss your unique needs with your physician if you are having trouble making it to or from your dialysis appointments. In some cases, Medicare patients may have access to other forms of treatment that prolong the need for dialysis, while in others, your doctor may be able to create a more suitable schedule to meet your needs while accounting for transportation concerns.
The important thing to remember is that dialysis can be the difference between life and death, so if you’re ordered to receive dialysis, you need to do everything possible to make it to your scheduled treatment sessions. Even if you skip a few sessions here and there, you may be setting yourself back by weeks, months or even years as your health continues to decline. If you aren’t able to make it to a scheduled appointment, contact your dialysis treatment center as soon as possible to schedule a new appointment so you can receive the help you need.