5 ways to get to doctor visits
Getting to medical appointments can be challenging when you’re not able to drive or catch a ride with a friend or loved one. Fortunately, there are often other options. Scroll on to find out about five resources that may be available in your community.
1. Public transportation
What is it? Vehicles, like buses or trains, that operate on set routes and schedules for public use.
Do you need a reservation? No.
Cost: Prices are fixed based on your route. Discounts may be available.
If you’re not used to taking public transportation, ask about travel-training programs in your community.
2. Paratransit services (specialized transportation)
What is it? Accessible transportation for people who can’t use regular transit services because of a qualifying disability.
Do you need a reservation? Yes. Trips should be scheduled at least a day in advance.
Cost: Varies by community but can’t be more than twice the rate for the same ride on public transport.
3. Volunteer ride programs
What is it? Rides from volunteers in faith groups or community nonprofits.
Do you need a reservation? Usually.
Cost: Rides may be free or require a small donation or fee.
4. Taxis and ride-hailing services
What is it? Rides in traditional taxicabs or from services such as Uber and Lyft.
Do you need a reservation? No, though you may be able to book in advance to avoid a wait.
Cost: Rates vary depending on factors like demand and the length of the trip.
5. Demand response (Dial-a-Ride)
What is it? A curb-to-curb service where you share rides with other people all going to different places.
Do you need a reservation? Sometimes. It may be required at least 24 hours in advance.
Cost: Varies by community.
Explore more options
Travel resources and costs can vary from area to area. Here are some ways to learn about your options:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse. They might know about transportation options that would help you keep your appointments.
- Call 211. This phone service provides information about local community services, including transportation.
- Call the Eldercare Locater at 800.677.1116 or visit eldercare.acl.gov. This national information and referral resource connects older adults and caregivers to services.
- Check your benefits. Medicare and some private insurance plans may cover rides to medical appointments through a benefit called NEMT (non-emergency medical transportation).
- AARP. “Learn How to Use Ride-Hailing and Ride-Sharing Services.” https://www.aarp.org/auto/driver-safety/uber-lyft-guide/.
- AARP. “Transportation: What Caregivers Need to Know.” https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2020/transportation-services.html.
- AGS Health in Aging Foundation. “Tip Sheet: Becoming A Non-Driver? Find Alternate Transportation Options.” https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/tip-sheet-becoming-non-driver-find-alternate-transportation-options.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Let Medicaid Give You a Ride.” https://www.cms.gov/medicare-medicaid-coordination/fraud-prevention/medicaid-integrity-education/downloads/nemt-factsheet.pdf.
- National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. “ADA & Paratransit.” https://www.nadtc.org/about/transportation-aging-disability/ada-and-paratransit/.
- National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. “Before You Give Up The Keys Create a Roadmap for Transportation Independence.” https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Resources/Brochures/docs/Give_Up_The_Keys_Roadmap_for_Transportation_Independence.pdf.
- National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. “Transportation Options for Older Adults and People with Disabilities. https://www.nadtc.org/about/transportation-aging-disability/unique-issues-related-to-older-adults-and-transportation/.