I’m glad to see The New York Times covering this important, but often overlooked issue. For solo elders, the requirement for a medical escort to accompany them to and from procedures is a burden that is difficult and expensive to overcome. It can be so difficult that elders decide it’s not worth the hassle and skip the procedure altogether.
Colonoscopies are probably the most common procedure that falls under this rule. Because of the sedative medications used, medical providers require an escort, so a person can’t use an Uber or Lyft as transportation. The escort needs to be a person known to the individual or a medical professional. Not all elders have loved ones still living or located nearby to assist them. And the cost of medical professionals to provide escort service is not covered by Medicare.
This is one of many issues that the population of elder orphans, those without a local support network, can face.
My mother was forced to pay out of pocket for expensive medical transportation to get her to and from her cancer screenings and follow up tests. It makes no sense that Medicaid covers nonemergency medical transport, but Medicare doesn’t.
The article highlights resources solo elders may be able to utilize, including nonprofits and home care companies. Those involved in religious organizations may consider reaching out to their congregation. While there are resources, they take time, effort and sometimes money to utilize. The onus should not be on the patient to jump over high hurdles to access these potentially life-saving procedures.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash.