Understanding the Medical Transportation Opportunity Part II


Medical transportation is not only limited to ambulettes and medivans. In many instances, ambulances are also used to meet the growing non-emergency transportation (NEMT) needs.

Ambulances, typically thought of only in regards to emergency transportation, are often enlisted to provide non-emergency transports in areas where there is a lack of adequate medivan services or areas where there is a failure in understanding of the convenience and cost-savings abilities of using ambulettes.

Unfortunately, many staff, facilities, and organizations fail to understand the versatility and cost saving opportunities that exist in using ambulettes versus using an ambulance. Typically, a NEMT being performed by an ambulette is, on average, 70 – 90 percent cheaper and more cost effective as compared to an ambulance performing the same transport of equal distance and dynamics.

The cause for this gross disparity in cost can be attributed to the simple overhead economics. The cost of vehicle, insurance, training, and equipment for an ambulance is considerably more as compared to that of an ambulette. Further an ambulance is always staffed by multiple certified EMT’s; further driving up labor and training costs. Conversely, an ambulette can be staffed by a single licensed driver trained only in state and local mandated transportation requirements. But again, this is only feasible for NEMT exclusively.

In states, counties, facilities, and areas where more and more ambulettes are being called upon to meet the non-emergency transportation needs of the growing elderly and disabled, there is a greater reduction in financial costs to insurance companies, Medicaid and Social Services, brokers, hospitals, non for profit organizations, and the like. At a time when budgetary concerns are being critically tested, such savings in using more ambulettes for non-emergency transportation needs is not only sensible and practical, but it’s critical. Rather than reimbursing an ambulance service thousands of dollars for a single non-emergency transport, the cost to private-paying clients and facilities alike for a comparable transport can literally be reduced to a hundred or so dollars!

Needless to say, as we move forward with ever growing medical and transportation needs, coupled with changes in health care practice and policies, the need for practical and cost effective non-emergency transportation solutions will become more apparent. The need for safe and adequate services will increase with a continued attention on overall cost of delivery of such services, hence, the growing opportunity of non-emergency transportation services.

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