Whether you're having minor surgery, a colonoscopy, or just getting your eyes dilated during a trip to the opthalmologist, being able to rely on someone else for a lift home from the hospital or doctor's office is welcome relief (and in some cases, is required by medical professionals). Unfortunately, not everyone has a friend or family member who can provide that assistance — but there are options.
According to a 2022 Census Bureau report, 37.9 million people live alone in the United States — a nearly five-fold increase from 6.9 million in 1960. The percentage of Americans living in single-person households only increases with age with 42% of people aged 65 and above living alone, and 58% of those 80 and over. If you are among those who don't have anyone to pick you up after an outpatient surgery or even a hospital stay, read on for some suggestions that could help (and if you have Medicaid, you could be in luck).
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Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
For eligible individuals who need transportation assistance, Medicaid offers Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) to and from the doctor's office, hospital, and other medical appointments. When you enroll in Medicaid, you will receive information about how and when you can schedule a ride, and you may have to call a Medicaid caseworker, a ride service, or another agency to set it up. (Just be sure not to try and add stops on the way home, even if they're convenient. Both you and the driver could be charged with fraud.)
If you aren't eligible for Medicaid, all is not lost.
Non-Profits That Provide Medical Transportation
Non-profits like NeedyMeds can help you find organizations like Wings of Hope (Missouri), Vital Flight (Florida), and the National Kidney Foundation Patient Emergency Assistance Program (Maryland and Delaware) that provide transportation services in your area. Keep in mind, however, many of these services are meant for those suffering from severe disease, so transportation services may not be available for certain appointments such as a colonoscopy.
Additional Tips for Planning a Ride Home
It's a good idea to find out what your options are before you need them — at some point or another, you're probably going to need a lift back from a doctor's appointment or hospital visit. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Reach out to friends, family, or community members who might be able to provide a ride home. Provide as much advance notice as possible so they can plan their schedules accordingly.
- Be sure to explain your situation to your medical care provider — they might be able to get you an extra day in the hospital or discharge you to an inpatient rehab facility so you can drive home later by yourself.
- If you prefer or need to go it alone, many home care agencies provide “appointment companions” to accompany you to clinics and hospitals. Since they aren't usually covered by insurance, though, be prepared to pay out of pocket.
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