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Uber Health, which was originally launched in March 2018, is a transportation accessibility program designed to help Medicaid patients make it to their doctors’ appointments. Lyft launched a similar program soon afterwards, partnering with Allscripts and 180,000 doctors in the nation.

Here’s how these programs work: healthcare providers schedule rides for eligible patients via Uber or Lyft. The providers cover the fee, which is then typically subsidized by insurance. The goal is to make doctors more accessible for at-risk patients and decrease excessive healthcare spending, primarily the $150 billion lost per year from late and no-show patients.

The City of Cincinnati announced its own partnership with Uber Health on March 18, 2019. Cincinnati’s Uber Health program is catered specifically to individuals who want addiction treatment. These individuals simply need to walk into a health center in the city and ask for treatment. Once that happens, a team will work together to determine the best course of action (hospitalization or otherwise). If the person does not need to be hospitalized, they will be provided with an Uber Health ride to one of three partnering addiction centers in the city.

Multiple concerns have been brought up regarding these programs. One concern is that people will be less inclined to call 911 during an actual medical emergency. While these programs are meant to be used by people in non-emergency medical situations, the high costs that come with an ambulance ride may make people more inclined to call Uber instead. Uber Health should never be used for an emergency because they are not equipped with the medical equipment and specialists that ambulances are.

This service is likely inaccessible to patients who have disabilities that cannot be accommodated in a regular car, such as someone who requires a wheelchair ramp to get into a vehicle. It also requires patients to download the app, restricting access to those with app-compatible smartphones that many low-income individuals cannot afford.

For now, it will take some time to determine the effectiveness of the program and whether or not these concerns are causing additional problems. In the meantime, anyone who has been injured as a passenger in a Lyft or Uber crash needs to know that they have legal options that must not be overlooked. Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling 202.930.0292

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