Cost Benefits Involved in the Implementation of Non Emergency Transportation Services

There has been increased discussion and debate worldwide regarding the state of various health services, especially concerning the healthcare of low income earners. Governments in many countries are therefore, continually increasing taxes and playing with numbers to ensure enough money remains in their budget to enable a well functioning health system.

In relation to low income earners however, in countries such as the United States, these measures currently don’t seem to be effective, with experts calling the health situation in many areas a ‘health crises’. One of the main reasons for this issue is reported to be, a distinct lack of transportation options in many areas, which consequently isolates patients from direct medical care. This has actually become such a problem that whole communities of people in America are being described as ‘transportation-disadvantaged’.

In order to combat this growing trend the government, as well as other private facilities offer non emergency transportation services which allow for the:

  • transportation of patients to and from non-urgent medical appointments
  • the transportation home after being discharged from hospital
  • the transfer between medical institutions
  • other scheduled non-urgent medical transport

How Non Emergency Transportation Services Can Help Cut Costs

The preventative use of non emergency transportation services, in preference to high priced emergency services once the health situation has become critical, is contemporarily argued to significantly cut overall health costs. This is in direct opposition to previous opinion which stated that introducing a new service such as non emergency medical transport’ (NEMT), an existing Medicaid system, would consequently raise the costs associated with health services.

The presumption behind this argument is that neglected healthcare often results in further, more expensive care, such as visits to the emergency department or extended stays in hospital.
When this is then considered with respect to the tens of millions of Americans who reported having trouble finding appropriate transport in 2002, it can be seen that a considerable number of illness could potentially be going without primary, preventative, or follow up treatment. The result of the flaws in the health system could be further observed with reports that over 114 million people visited emergency rooms in 2003. This was a 26 percent increase compared to 1993 and not at all comparable with an overall 10 percent increase in the total American population during this period.

Changes that Need to be Made to Existing Non Emergency Transportation Services

It is quite obvious that the existing non emergency transportation services are supporting the emergency transport services, and (still debatably) saving money. There are numerous changes which need to be made to these programs however, to achieve maximum efficiency and financial benefits.

The current availability of non emergency transportation services to low income earners is still quite poor, as only patients that are members of Medicaid are generally afforded the services. Even then the demand for the service on a particular day may outweigh the available resources.

In short it can be noted that the proper implementation of non emergency transportation systems has the potential to save large amounts of money, and to improve the level of health care afforded to lower income households. Changes must however be made to the existing system for this to occur.