Long-term care insurance and other transportation options help seniors stay mobile

Jill Overmyer

Long-term care insurance covers the cost of valuable services for senior citizens and disabled people who can no longer care for themselves. These can range from in-home care to outside services like adult day care or rehabilitation appointments. But if long-term care insurance recipients can't care for themselves, how can they get to their appointments?

Many long-term care recipients rely on a network of family and friends for transportation. But because that's not possible for all, there are a number of transportation options available to seniors.

Insurance coverage

Some long-term care insurance policies cover transportation to and from appointments, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This could include cabs, mass transit, or private services with vehicles that can accommodate wheelchairs. Exactly what (and how much) is covered depends on the provider and policy, so make sure you check before assuming transportation costs are included.

Public transportation

Seniors who feel comfortable taking public transportation often are given discounted rates for subways, buses and trains. Because it's often not possible for those using long-term care insurance to simply walk to bus and subway stops, many local governments offer special services.

In Maryland's Montgomery County, for example, the Call 'N' Ride program provides heavily discounted taxi services for seniors and those with disabilities. It's available to those over 67 (or over 16 if disabled) but also has some income requirements. Those who use it buy coupons and can then take any taxi services that are contracted with the county.

New York state offers a reduced-fare Metro Card for seniors, and some cities in the state provide transportation to doctor appointments, nutrition centers and grocery stores. Many states have similar programs; contact your state's transportation department for more information about public transit discounts.

Specialty services

Because public transportation may not be flexible enough to cover all of a person's transportation needs, a variety of local and national businesses and nonprofits are attempting to address them.

The Independent Transportation Network, for example, is a national nonprofit transit system for elderly Americans. It operates in a variety of small and large cities, providing door-to-door transportation to vital destinations like the doctor's office. It also helps seniors get to places that long-term care insurance doesn't cover, like hair appointments and the movies. Riders pay their way, but have the option of handing over their own cars (which they can no longer use) in exchange for rides.

Are You Currently Insured?