As we navigate through the intricate landscape of healthcare, Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) stands as a critical component ensuring access to care for millions of individuals worldwide. In 2024, amidst the backdrop of evolving healthcare systems and societal shifts, understanding the trends and statistics shaping NEMT services is paramount for healthcare providers, policymakers, and stakeholders alike.

From the rise of on-demand transportation solutions to the integration of artificial intelligence and data analytics, the NEMT sector is undergoing a paradigm shift aimed at enhancing efficiency, accessibility, and quality of care delivery. Moreover, with an aging population and growing prevalence of chronic diseases, the demand for reliable and efficient NEMT services continues to escalate.

Here, we’ve compiled 21 important NEMT statistics to give you an idea of the sector’s direction. Use these data points to guide your understanding of NEMT trends in 2024 and beyond:

Why People Need NEMT

NEMT services give patients who are unable to drive themselves or use public transportation a means to attend medical appointments. One interesting fact unbeknownst to many is that the availability of NEMT has a significant impact on the health and finances of millions of Americans.

  • 21% of U.S. adults without access to a vehicle or public transit went without needed medical care last year. Individuals who lacked access to a vehicle but reported neighborhood access to public transportation services were less likely to skip needed care (9%).
    Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2023
  • 5% of all U.S. adults reported forgoing healthcare due to transportation barriers.
    Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2023
  • 6 million Americans annually delay or miss non-emergency medical appointments due to transportation barriers, potentially worsening their health and causing financial setbacks for the healthcare system.
    Source: Hughes-Cromwich & Wallas research, 2006
  • This translates to USD 14.4 billion in lost revenue for healthcare providers and USD 2.3 billion in additional costs for patients.
    Source: RouteGenie, 2023

NEMT Market

2024 will see the continued growth of NEMT, thanks to the factors discussed below. However, this growth will be limited due to systemic healthcare and transportation issues that still need to be resolved.

  • The global NEMT market is projected to witness significant growth and is estimated to reach USD 15.58 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.0% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2028.
    Source: GlobeNewswire, 2023
  • The market growth is attributed to the growing need for NEMT services, the rising incidence of chronic diseases, and the increasing geriatric population. However, certain factors, such as lack of efficient oversight systems, rise in fraud by NEMT companies, and lack of transportation services in rural areas, hinder the market growth.
    Source: GlobeNewswire, 2023

Cost Savings from NEMT

Healthcare providers and policymakers should consider increasing investments in NEMT because of the proven cost benefits associated with these services. It is shown that healthcare providers, patients, and the general population benefit whenever NEMT services are made available at scale.

Who Benefits Most from NEMT

While NEMT benefits everyone in the American healthcare system, the elderly, minorities, individuals with low-income backgrounds, and people with mental health issues stand to gain the most from it. This is mostly because people from these groups lack access to transportation options or are unable to meet their medical appointments by themselves.

  • Transportation concerns among older adults are rising as this population segment is projected to grow from over 40 million in 2010 to over 88 million by the year 2050.
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012
  • The growth of the aging population will increase transportation service demands as many older adults do not have alternative transportation support.
    Choi, Adams, & Kahana, 2012
  • Over 20% of US adults, mainly low-income individuals, experience transportation barriers that hinder care access, leading to at least one missed medical appointment in the past year, revealed by an Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study.
    Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2023
  • Black adults (8%), adults with low family incomes (14%), and adults with public health insurance (12%) were all more likely to forgo needed care due to difficulty finding transportation.
    Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2023
  • Adults with a disability (17%) were more than three times as likely to report skipping care due to transportation concerns.
    Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2023
  • NEMT is particularly important for people with mental illness since behavioral health services are the most frequently cited reason for using NEMT.
    Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2024

Current NEMT Demand

While there is some variation between states, NEMT services are generally popular wherever they are made available. However, the popularity of NEMT is also highly dependent on external factors, as shown by the changes in demand before and after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).

  • In fiscal year (FY) 2018, there were over 60 million NEMT ride-days (i.e., days in which a beneficiary had at least one NEMT ride). State and federal spending on NEMT was USD 2.6 billion (excluding managed care payments to providers).
    Source: Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, 2021
  • Less than 5% of beneficiaries used NEMT in FY 2018. For beneficiaries who do use NEMT, it plays a vital role in facilitating access to care. Focus group participants said it is essential to maintaining their health, and in some cases, has been lifesaving.
    Source: Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, 2021
  • CMS found that approximately 3 million to 4 million Medicaid beneficiaries used NEMT services annually between 2018 and 2021, representing 4−5% of Medicaid beneficiaries. Alaska, Minnesota, Arizona, Maine, and Wisconsin had the highest percentage of Medicaid beneficiaries who used NEMT, with up to nearly 11% in Alaska in 2021.
    Source: Health Management Associates, 2023
  • During the COVID-19 PHE, rates of NEMT dropped from 3.9 million beneficiaries, or 5% of all Medicaid members in 2019, to 3.5 million (4%) in 2020 and 3.3 million (4%) in 2021. In 2019−2020, the total number of annual NEMT ride days dropped by 37%, from 81.3 million to 53.1 million, but increased by more than 4% (to 55.5 million) in 2021. On average, the monthly number of NEMT ride days in 2021 remained about 30% below pre-PHE levels, and the number of beneficiaries using NEMT remained 23% below pre-PHE levels.
    Source: Health Management Associates, 2023

The NEMT sector continues to evolve with profound implications for healthcare access and health outcomes in the United States. As revealed by the statistics presented above, the indispensable role of NEMT in overcoming transportation barriers is pivotal in shaping a healthier population. With its promised cost savings and clear benefits for vulnerable populations, NEMT is, more than ever before, becoming a vital and transformative force, ensuring that every individual, regardless of circumstance, can access the care they need.

About Traumasoft

Traumasoft is one truly integrated product for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) that drives timely efficiencies. We are an all-in-one system capable of managing every aspect of your EMS operations. One system comprised of interconnected solutions handles staff, integrates processes, manages assets, and grows revenue. Schedule a demo today to see how we can help you increase operation efficiency and profitability.