Seniors — specifically those who are Medicare Advantage (MA) beneficiaries — will be a driving force in Lyft’s (Nasdaq: LYFT) health care business in 2020 and beyond, according to vice president of health care Megan Callahan.
“We expect to be working with the majority of the largest MA plans by 2020, as an increasing number of these plans are recognizing the benefits that transportation, and rideshare in particular, can provide for their members,” Callahan told Home Health Care News in an email, reiterating what was first reported by Forbes.
The news comes after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) announced in April that MA plans would have more freedom than ever before starting in 2020.
Specifically, new rules for 2020 allow MA plans to offer any supplemental benefits that “have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of beneficiaries with chronic conditions.
This includes transportation, in addition to other benefits addressing social determinants of health.
Lack of transportation contributes to as many as 30% of all patients missing doctor appointments, and absenteeism costs the health care industry as much as $150 billion in lost revenue annually, according to a report by health care technology firm SCI Solutions.
On top of that, missing appointments also leads to sicker patients.
“Providing better transportation options has the potential to not only positively impact retention and loyalty for these plans, but also to improve health outcomes for their members through helping them get appropriately diagnosed and treated, preventing costly progression of disease,” Callahan said.
Earlier this year, Callahan expressed interest in addressing both factors using Medicare Advantage partnerships — well before CMS’s further expanded supplemental benefits for 2020 and beyond.
“We’ve seen the positive impact transportation can have, not just on costs and operational efficiencies, but also on an individual’s overall health,” Callahan previously told HHCN. “That’s why we were excited to hear that [CMS] announced new flexibility for MA plans to innovate with services that promote member health and wellness.”
MA plans were first allowed to cover non-medical supplemental benefits for the 2019 plan year.
Currently, Lyft has Medicare Advantage partnerships with insurers such as Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna.
“Our exclusive broker partnerships enable us to access this new market seamlessly,” Callahan said. “For example, we’re currently working with [the Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute], Cigna-Healthspring via Access2Care and recently expanded our work with LogistiCare to encompass certain Humana Medicare Advantage plans.”
Separate from Medicare Advantage plans, Lyft also partners with home care providers such as Comfort Keepers and 24 Hour Home Care to offer seniors on-demand transportation.
While Lyft has yet to announce with whom it’s pursuing new partnerships, health plan bids to participate in Medicare Advantage for 2020 are due June 3.
Currently, about 20 million Americans have MA plans — or about 35% of all Medicare beneficiaries. And on top of being more expansive, MA plans are becoming more affordable: Premiums on average dropped by more than 30% in Q1 2019, according to recent data from eHealth.
If Callahan’s comments weren’t indication enough, Lyft — which went public earlier this year — also expressed its plans to expand its health care offerings in recent SEC filings. In them, company leadership expressed the need to devote resources to learning more about health privacy laws.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Uber — Lyft’s biggest ride-hailing competitor — told HHCN MA partnerships are “a segment Uber is pursuing with interest.”
HHCN recently explored the home care industry’s anticipated involvement in the MA space as part of a survey of 105 at-home care providers. Among the survey questions, HHCN asked respondents which home care services they expected MA plans to cover in the 2020 plan year.
The vast majority of respondents — 84% — chose “personal care” from a list of several options. Meanwhile, about 38% chose “transportation.”