The US has one of the most wasteful healthcare systems in the world—we spend around 17 percent of our GDP on health, but experience poorer health outcomes than most other high-income countries. Part of that excess spending is lost to no-shows: patients who don't come to their appointments cost the health system an estimated $150 billion per year, partly because 3.6 million people can't access adequate transport on time.
Rideshare companies have been positioning themselves to help close that gap, while angling to get government funding to take patients to health appointments. Uber and Lyft have built partnerships with insurance companies, hospital systems, and clinics in hopes they can provide more efficient, non-emergency transport for patients trying to get to their appointments. And they say they can save our healthcare system plenty of money doing it.
"For the past three years, we've been focused on non-emergency transport," Megan Callahan, Lyft's Vice President of health, told me through email. "In that time, we've seen endless examples of the positive impact transportation can have...not just on improving overall health, but also by saving costs and increasing operational efficiencies for our healthcare partners."
Earlier this month Lyft announced an expanded partnership with Medicare Advantage plans from health insurance companies BlueCross BlueShield and Humana. Medicare Advantage is a government program for people over 65. Essentially, patients enrolled in these insurance plans, which are funded with government dollars, can access rides to their appointments through Lyft. The rides are billed to their health insurance plan.