Medicaid Concepts: Transportation as a Social Determinant of Health

This is part of our Medicaid Concepts series, in which we provide a high level overview of key concepts in the Medicaid industry today.

What do we mean by transportation as a social determinant of health?

While most of the social determinants of health conversation focuses on various forms of food, clothing and shelter issues, lack of transportation is another area that is generally recognized as impacting healthcare. In places where public transportation is not available, the ability to get to health appointments can be especially limited.  If a Medicaid member cannot actually get to the doctor’s appointment, then few of the benefits of proper care can be realized. According to a report from the American Hospital Association, more than 3.6M Americans do not get the care they need because they did have a way to get to their visit.

from the AHA report

What role does Medicaid play?

Many Medicaid programs have operated optional non-emergency transportation (NET) programs for years. While these programs address the issue, there are long standing challenges with missed pickup appointments, overly complicated dispatch systems and legacy providers.

Several innovative Medicaid programs have emerged using rideshare vendors (like Uber and Lyft) to streamline the member experience and improve visit completion rates. Medicaid programs can partner with these vendors (or have their Medicaid managed care plans partner with them).

While these options can help meet gaps in urban environments, transportation challenges in rural areas for Medicaid members will likely require alternative solutions.

Explore further