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Can I Safely Use an RV for Medical Transportation?

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According to studies, transportation is the third most common barrier for American adults seeking health care. Reports also indicate that up to 3.6 million people in the USA fail to get medical care due to transportation-related issues.

High cost of medical transportation, availability of options, and lack of road access are among the problems most patients and families with ailing loved ones face. Health insurance usually covers the cost of treatment but not transportation costs. Some patients may not be able to travel on commercial airlines or public transportation because they are immunocompromised.

What happens if you have a rare condition that needs special care or a medical condition that’s challenging to diagnose, and you have to travel a long distance to get help? You may want to consider an RV for medical travel, but still wondering whether this is possible. Here’s everything you need to know.

Can I Use an RV for Medical Transportation?

Cost and access to easy medical travel options are a big concern for most people seeking long-distance care. The situation brewed a partnership between health systems and ridesharing corporations like Uber to offer easy transport to those in rural areas. 


But, all these options may not be at your disposal. A study by Penn Medicine indicated that missed appointments don’t differ much between patients with access to ridesharing and those without (36.5% and 36.7%, respectively).

If all these don’t prove fruitful, it’s time to explore more options. For instance, recreational Vehicles (RVs) may be viable, especially if you’re seeking non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). First, these vehicles are typically spacious. Thus, even patients in wheelchairs can sufficiently use them.

Is an RV Safe for Medical Transportation?

You may wonder if it’s safe to ride in an RV lying down in the bed or sitting up in one of the seats that does not have a seat belt. Unfortunately, it is absolutely not safe to do so. First, these vehicles aren’t DOT-approved to provide medical transportation. Also, the RV motorhomes don’t experience the same thorough crashworthiness safety requirements as other vehicles. The motorhomes are stick homes constructed on the chassis of a truck and are pretty susceptible to fatality in case of an accident.

It is illegal in most states to ride in a vehicle without a seatbelt fastened. Check the laws around traveling in an RV in your locality. In some states, it’s illegal to sleep on the bed while the RV is moving. For example, states like Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, etc., allow users to lie in the RV, while Maine, Arkansas, and New Hampshire don’t. Regardless of the law, it is not considered safe. 

An RV may make a long trip more comfortable, and may help you save on hotels, but you’ll need to plan to have everyone securely belted in any time the vehicle is in motion.

What’s the Cost of Renting an RV as an NEMT Vehicle?

The cost of hiring a NEMT vehicle differs depending on several factors. Each company has a different billing option depending on the distance, needs of your patient (ambulatory, stretchered, or wheelchair), and time of travel (weekend, holiday, evening, or working day). Thus, it’s best to seek clarification from your local providers.

Still, the costs can be below or over $300, depending on the company and your needs. Some RV rental companies you may want to check out include Cruise America, RVshare, Lost Campers, and Escape Campervans. Be sure to ask about extras, like mileage, insurance, and consumables, like propane or generator use.

RVs Are an Option

When shopping for long-distance non-emergency medical transportation, explore all options to find what best suits the patient’s needs. To get this, you’ll also need to assess the patient and have a clear picture of the suitable medical travel options for their needs. Also, remember to carry the necessary medical equipment you may need along the trip, and note any close hospitals on your route. That will be helpful if the patient needs any professional care. 

Other options for Long Distance Non-Emergency Medical Travel

There are charitable organizations that assist with free non-emergency medical transportation for people who cannot afford the cost. Angel Flight West is one such organization in the western US that arranges flights on private aircraft donated by volunteer pilots and on commercial airlines using donated tickets. For other organizations around the country, please review our article outlining these resources.

Since our founding in 1983, Angel Flight West has provided nearly 100,000 flights for thousands of people. Our private volunteer pilots fly their own or rented aircraft and donate the flight costs to Angel Flight West. When a small aircraft is impractical, we partner with major air carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, Contour Airlines, JSX, and Hawaiian Airlines. We also have volunteer drivers called Earth Angels who assist with the ground portion of our donated trips.

If the cost of traveling for medical treatment is become a burden for you, we encourage you to find out more about our services, request a flight now if you have a scheduled medical appointment that you need to travel more than 100 miles to, or contact our office at [email protected] or (310) 390-2958. We look forward to serving you.

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