Paratransit is a term that refers to transportation services for the elderly, disabled and others who cannot use regular transportation services. Usually associated as a supplement to public transportation services, it also applies to fee-for-service companies that provide Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT).
In either case, paratransit provides critical services to those who can’t drive themselves or ride on regular transportation. Paratransit can include special buses that run individualized routes rather than picking up riders at a set stop. In NEMT, it can include providing transportation planning and medical services for those with disabilities or chronic conditions who wish to pay for such services.
The Roots of Paratransit
The 1973 Rehabilitation Act passed by Congress prohibited anyone from being excluded from public services that receive federal funds. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) expanded that to include any service that receives funds from the federal, state or local level.
This includes transportation services. The idea is to provide services for those who cannot use fixed-schedule rail or bus services.
Most public paratransit companies are companies that contract with the government to provide transportation services to the disabled. They are typically offered only in places where there is a public bus or rail service.
Features of public paratransit services include being “demand responsive,” meaning an individual can call and receive service at the best times for them – typically within a window of one hour before or one hour after the requested time.
Most paratransit vehicles carry more than one person. Also, the eligibility rules are set at the local level.
Eligibility requirements can be different in different areas. However, the federal government has three general criteria for determining who is eligible for ADA paratransit. They are included in a report funded by the Federal Transit Administration.
- A person who cannot navigate the transit system without assistance
- A person living where existing transportation routes are not accessible
- A “reasonable person” with a disability who is deterred from making a trip because of obstacles involved with public transportation (such as a long walk to the bus stop)
- People can qualify for unconditional eligibility (paratransit needed for all trips), conditional eligibility (paratransit needed for some trips) and temporary eligibility (paratransit needed for just a brief period of time).
There are other options that are not free for people who need support and medical services when they fly.
NEMT provides a solution for those who cannot use public transportation on their own, particularly when it comes to air travel. This is not to be confused, however, with free public transportation services offered through government agencies and their contractors.
A NEMT company is hired by an individual with a disability, debilitating injury or chronic medical condition that makes unattended air travel impossible. The company helps them make their travel plans, including making arrangements in advance with airports and airlines for assistance in moving through the airport and onto a plane.
Once on their trip, clients travel with experienced, trained nurses who manage their medications and ensure they remain healthy and safe during the trip.
Both public paratransit and NEMT provide critical needs to those who otherwise could not travel on their own. They are important assets in the nation’s transportation system.
TSA Precheck allows select travelers to quickly move through airport security without having to remove shoes, liquids, belts, laptops and light jackets. You must pay an $85 application fee. Those eligible for the program include U.S. citizens, foreigners who meet certain criteria and those without convictions for certain crimes.
More than 7 million travelers have enrolled in TSA Precheck. The average waiting time in security for 93% of those travelers is less than five minutes. Here are more details on the TSA Precheck program, including the benefits, eligibility requirements and how to apply.
The Benefits of TSA Precheck
Airport security lines can cause lengthy delays for many travelers. Those who choose to go through the process of TSA Precheck allow the federal government to thoroughly vet them. If they are deemed low-risk travelers, they may be allowed to enroll in the program.
The most obvious benefit is getting separated into a different line and moving fast through security. TSA Precheck travelers do not have to stop and remove their shoes, belts or light jackets. They also do not have to take out and separate their laptops, liquids or gel products from the rest of their baggage for screening.
It’s a big benefit for any traveler offered through the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA). It can especially benefit business and other frequent travelers, as well as disabled passengers. More than 200 airports and 56 airlines in the United States accommodate those enrolled in TSA Precheck, according to the TSA site.
Eligibility Requirements for TSA Precheck
TSA Precheck status is ideal for domestic travel. All U.S. citizens are eligible. So are those born in foreign countries who have become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S.
Foreign travelers and U.S. citizens who frequently travel to other countries will want to look into three “trusted traveler” programs offered through the Department of Homeland Security before applying for TSA Precheck. They are:
- Global Entry. Ideal for those arriving in the United States from international destinations.
- NEXUS. Ideal for those who frequently travel between the U.S. and Canada
- SENTRI. Ideal for those who frequently travel by ground vehicle or walking between the U.S. and Mexico
In the case of Global Entry and NEXUS, enrollment in TSA precheck is one of the benefits once you are approved for the program.
Disqualifying Criminal Offenses
The TSA provides a long list of criminal convictions that permanently disqualify passengers from eligibility for TSA Precheck. They include espionage, sedition, treason, crimes of terrorism, improper transportation of hazardous materials and unlawful possession of explosives.
Other crimes can disqualify travelers if they were convicted, pled guilty or found not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of the date of application. These crimes include unlawful possession of firearms, extortion, bribery, smuggling, immigration violations, arson, kidnapping, and rape.
Keep in mind that the TSA can still not approve you for the program if they find something in your criminal history as part of your security threat assessment (such as extensive criminal convictions or long incarceration periods).
How to Apply for TSA Precheck
If you meet the eligibility requirements and do not have disqualifying criminal offenses on your record, then you may apply for TSA Precheck. The process is as follows.
- Fill out an online application available on the TSA site and submit an $85 application fee ($100 for foreign residents)
- Some credit card companies and loyalty programs may cover all or part of your TSA Precheck fee.
- Some airlines also allow those with points or frequent flier miles to use them for TSA Precheck. Such promotions usually are temporary, so check with your individual airline
- Part of the application is allowing TSA to do a thorough background check on you
- Applicants then must make an appointment at an enrollment center and meet in person for an assessment. These usually take about 10 minutes
- To find an enrollment center near you, use this search function from the government
Once approved, you will receive a PASS ID number that can be used when booking flights. Members of the Armed Forces can also use their DOD ID number. The fact you are in TSA Precheck will appear on your boarding pass.
TSA Precheck offers great benefits for those who are eligible, which is why more than 7 million have entered the program. If you think it can improve your travel experience, it’s well worth your consideration if you are eligible.
Traveling for the holidays when you are disabled goes smoother if you take the proper steps. The first and most important is to contact your airline and ask for assistance, as well as making preparations such as packing sufficient medicine, properly transporting your wheelchair, and making reservations for adequate accommodations at your destination.
Traveling for the holidays when you’re disabled does require a certain amount of “homework” and preparation. However, airlines and airports have decades of experience providing help to people in your exact situation.
Here’s a look at some issues involving travel for the holidays if you’re disabled.
Contact the Airline
Airlines and airports are mandated by federal law to accommodate the needs of those traveling while disabled, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Air Carrier Access Act protects the rights of all disabled air travelers on flights in, to and from the United States.
This applies to those with chronic conditions or injuries. The support can come in many ways. By contacting the airport and letting them know your needs, you can get the following types of help.
- Assistance moving from the terminal entrance through check-in, security, and reaching the gate
- Early boarding on the airplane, and support in reaching your seat
- Airplane seating accommodations that meet disabled passenger needs
- Assistance with loading and stowing any devices or equipment you must bring on the flight
- Accommodations for service animals (this includes emotional support animals)
Your first, best move, is to contact the airline you are flying on and the airports you are traveling to and from.
It’s possible to take your own wheelchair with you to your destination. Typically, you will be transferred before boarding the plane into a special wheelchair designed to fit in the narrow aisle of the airplane. Your own wheelchair is securely stowed away for the flight. Attendants will have it there for you when you arrive at the gate at your destination airport.
It’s important to take stock of your medications and determine how much you will need to take with you to last throughout your trip. Another approach is to take enough medication for the first few days of your trip and have a prescription that can be filled when you reach your destination. If you are leaving the United States, it’s important to do the research on laws and regulations covering medication.
This is an area where many can benefit from a medical transport company that handles all the details of your trip, including making arrangements to have a nurse fly with you who will monitor your health and managing all the equipment and medication you need during your flight.
Best Accommodations When Traveling For The Holidays
Most major cities around the world have accommodations for those traveling for the holidays while disabled. This requires thorough research on your part. Features to look for include wheelchair accessibility, wheel-in showers, grab rails, shower chairs, and electric beds. For those who may need oxygen, it’s important to see if that is available. This is another area where a full-service medical transport company can provide help.
These are some of the issues that can make traveling for the holidays while disabled as comfortable as possible. Keep them in mind as you make your preparations. The bottom line is that the holidays are a time to gather with friends and family – something that should be available for everyone, even those who have disabilities.
The term “medical tourism” refers to people who travel from their home country to another country to receive medical treatment. The reasons for medical tourism include cheaper healthcare in other countries, getting treatments not available in your own country, getting a higher level of care, and immigrants flying back to their home country because they prefer getting medical treatment there.
Medical tourism has grown in popularity as people decide to find the best medical care possible, rather than making do with what is available in their own country.
Domestic Medical Tourism
One often overlooked facet of medical tourism is domestic medical tourism. This occurs when people find that the specific treatment they seek is done better in another state or city in their own country. In some cases, people will travel because the medical services are cheaper in another location.
This practice has gained popularity in the United States, where certain cities are hubs for the best medical care. People come from across the U.S. to receive a higher quality of care, or to take advantage of new treatments that might not be available in their own area.
Why Do People Practice Medical Tourism?
Any number of factors can drive a person to medical tourism. The following are some of the most common reasons.
Affordable Medical Care
Healthcare costs have soared in the U.S. Many patients simply cannot afford the treatments or procedures within the country. Because cheaper services are available in other countries, they still come out ahead even when factoring in travel costs. Some of the most common procedures that medical tourists undergo include cosmetic surgery, dentistry, and heart surgery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Higher Quality Care
This issue often leads people to travel from other countries to the U.S. While costs are sometimes higher in the U.S., the quality of care is considered among the best available in the world. However, in some cases, people from the U.S. will travel to another country, especially for new procedures or treatments.
People from the U.S. who are currently living abroad will sometimes return home for medical treatments. They are far more comfortable getting treatment in their own country, and often the medical services available are of a higher quality than those in other parts of the world.
As noted by the CDC, it’s wise to hire professionals to handle the details of traveling for medical tourism. A company such as Flying Angels has both expertise in available medical services as well as handling all the details of medical travel. Highly qualified and experienced nurses travel with patients, and healthcare and travel professionals make all the necessary arrangements for the trip.
Domestic medical tourism and international medical tourism will continue to grow in popularity as more people become aware of the advantages. The key is to weigh all the factors involved to make sure it’s the right move for you and to hire professionals with experience in making medical tourism go smoothly.
People rarely think about or plan for the possibility of getting hurt on vacation. But it’s wise to gather emergency contact numbers, pack medical supplies, buy insurance, get the best equipment available for active outdoor vacations, locate where you can go near your vacation spot in case of emergency, and have a plan to get yourself and your family safely back home.
Hurt On Vacation Tips
Planning for safety in the event of getting hurt on vacation is a vital part of getting prepared for any trip. One of the key factors is having reliable contacts if you get into a situation where you require medical aid.
One sure way to have that is to work with a company such as Flying Angels that provides medical transport for those who need aid and support. That’s a decision that can alleviate a lot of the worry associated with planning for a medical emergency while on vacation.
Here are some tips to keep in mind that will make your life easier in the event you are hurt on vacation.
Shop around for travel insurance. Decent rates are available. While the last thing you want to think about before a big trip is something going wrong, getting insurance will provide you with peace of mind in case the worse happens.
Travel Insurance vs Trip Insurance
It’s important to keep in mind the difference between travel insurance and trip insurance. Travel insurance is essentially an extra health insurance policy to cover you if you experience health-related issues while traveling. Trip insurance covers you for travel-related financial losses, such as cancellations, delays, missed flight connections, and lost baggage.
Make sure to not only have the right numbers to call in case of an accident where you are going but also numbers of your doctor and other medical professionals back at home. In some cases, you’ll want to consult with your own doctor before getting medical treatment far from home.
Take any medication you think you might need on the road. This can include antibiotics, pain medication, antihistamine and even antidiarrheal medicine (trouble digesting the local cuisine is one of the chief causes of medical issues, especially on trips out of the country). Also, make sure all your vaccinations are up to date before you hit the road.
If your trip involves hiking, biking or otherwise spending time in nature, considering upgrading to travel outfitters that will offer you the best equipment available as well as extra insurance. They may also offer numbers to call and support for getting out of tough places and to a hospital.
Use Common Sense
If something is bothering you or you don’t feel right, take it seriously. One of the worst mistakes travelers make is ignoring signs of illness or the pain of an injury. That’s understandable. No one wants to have a vacation “ruined.” However, it’s far worse to pretend something isn’t happening, which will only make it worse later.
Medical transport companies can also be of significant help if things go wrong. Flying Angels has years of experience offer medical transport to people traveling with injuries or illness. Through a flight coordinator, you will have complete support in getting medical aid, even when flying outside the country.
Keep these issues in mind when getting ready to take a trip, whether it’s domestic or international. A good plan will provide peace of mind. It also will make things go a lot smoother if you are hurt when on vacation.
In most cases, you can use your own wheelchair all the way into the airport, through security, and to the boarding area. At that point, you will typically be transferred to a special wheelchair that can fit in the plane aisle while your own chair is safely stored in the airplane cabin during the flight.
Airlines also typically want to pre-board passengers when they use a wheelchair. Once you arrive at the airport, your own chair is quickly available for your use.
If you plan to fly and use a wheelchair, there are important issues to keep in mind.
Check With Airline Beforehand
Let the airline know you use a chair and what flight you will be taking. This allows them to prepare for your arrival and ensure they have the right personnel and equipment to meet your needs. Also, it gives you a chance to become familiar with the rules on disabled travel for your particular airline.
Airlines use a special service request code in their records to mark passengers who need assistance. The codes for wheelchair use include WCHR (can walk for short distances and on stairs), WCHS (can walk short distances, but not on stairs), WCHC (cannot walk at all and will need aisle wheelchair on board plane), WCOB (aisle wheelchair requested for during flight).
Also, familiarize yourself with the Air Carriers Access Act of 1986, so you will know your rights under the law for flying with a wheelchair in the United States.
Prepare Your Wheelchair
Let the airline know what type of chair you will be storing – hand-propelled or electric. If electric, let them know what type of battery you use. Those with wet acid batteries will need to arrive earlier than usual, as the battery will need to be removed and placed in a special container during the flight.
Also, it’s wise to remove any detachable parts from your wheelchair to prevent damage. Label your chair with your name, address, and destination airport, just as you would with luggage.
It’s also good to make sure you have insurance to cover any damage to the chair or any personal injury during the flight.
It’s good to arrive at the airport about three hours before your flight to ensure you have plenty of time to make it through the airport, security and to the gate. Time also is needed to transfer you to the aisle chair and store your wheelchair.
Complaints and Problems
Should problems arise during the flight with either you or your chair or if you have issues with how you are being treated, ask to speak to the Complaints Resolution Officer. There should be one on each flight. This is where having a good understanding of your rights by law can also prove helpful. The officer is there to mitigate any problems and make sure your needs are met.
These are some of the key issues to keep in mind. While you can certainly fly with your wheelchair, it goes best when you take the time to prepare.