Lyft and Uber are attempting to cure a major medical problem for poor people and the elderly: Getting a ride to the doctor.
The ride-hailing services are expanding their offer to take patients around the country to and from non-emergency health care appointments, and they have a huge market to target.
More than 7 million Americans miss medical care every year due to a lack of transportation, according to health economist Paul Hughes-Cromwick.
Health insurers and care providers have been trying to solve this problem for years. Those who have studied it say Lyft and Uber will help, but improving access to health care involves more than just lining up a ride.
A Closer Look
Q: What are these companies offering?
A: Lyft said Monday it is partnering with the information technology company Allscripts to expand the number of rides it offers through doctor’s offices and other health care providers. The company already provides transportation to millions of patients each year through partnerships with insurers, large health care systems and others.
Uber announced last week that it will offer health care transportation in every U.S. market where it operates, the continuation of a venture it has been testing since last summer.
Both companies say they will operate in cities and less-populated rural areas, and they will bill the care provider or an insurer — not the patient — for the rides. Patients don’t need a smartphone or an application to use their services.
They’re digging into an issue that has long been a concern for insurers and health care providers. The state- and federally funded Medicaid program for poor people and the disabled covers transportation costs.
The insurer Molina Healthcare, which specializes in Medicaid, has offered a transportation benefit for around 25 years. Molina provides bus passes and works with transportation brokers to arrange rides.
Q: What are the benefits?
Source: Mobile Tech Today