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Lyft launches healthcare transportation program

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Megan Callahan, Lyft vice president of Healthcare, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the launch of Lyft Pass for Healthcare, a product to aid eligible users in transportation to medical appointments.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: A few times through the pandemic, we have talked to Lyft about the investments they're making in making health care more accessible for folks across the country-- the company out with a new initiative requesting rides to doctor's appointments, vaccine appointments, pharmacy pick-ups, and so on for Medicare and Medicaid.

Joining us now is Megan Callahan. She's the Vice President of Health Care over at Lyft. We're also joined by Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani. So, Megan, let's just start with the details on the latest announcement and the latest move you guys are making to, again, deepen that ability for folks to use your services to get the medical help they need.

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Sure. Thanks for having me this morning. So this morning, we're excited to announce Lyft Pass for health care, which really for the first time allows patients to call rides for medical appointments from the Lyft app. So eligible Medicaid, Medicare recipients can use the Lyft app to go to medical appointments and still have a sponsoring organization like a health plan pay for that ride.

So previously, just to set the context of what normally happens, typically, these members have to call in to a call center, they wait in a long line, they talk to a live coordinator, they book the ride real time. And then often, if a ride is missed or if an appointment is missed, they have to call back in and go through the whole thing over again. So what we've been able to do is give our customers their number one ask, which is to have patients leverage the Lyft up and give the patient, really, agency and autonomy over their health care journey, which we believe will really incent people to go back into health care.

We know people have avoided medical appointments for the past year. Certainly people will use this service to get to vaccines. So we're very excited about the autonomy it gives to patients. And then for sponsoring health care organizations, this really reduces their overhead cost and allows them to really focus on the patient experience and focusing on higher order activities.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Megan, Anjalee here. I wonder how much of this is a direct result of the pandemic, and all the needs that have come up, and all the sort of changes that we've seen. Is this really a long-term growth market outside of just Medicare, Medicaid, and maybe even into commercially insured individuals?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: For sure. Since I joined Lyft two years ago, this has been the number one request of our health care customers. So we know that there's a product market fit here for this. Certainly, it's very timely with the pandemic and vaccines, and certainly vaccines is one use case that this will be leveraged for. But there's definitely long-term applicability for this product in all populations, including commercial insurance.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And I know that you're talking about doing this through the sponsoring health systems, but what about directly with insurers, directly with the government for Medicare and Medicaid, and even Medicare Advantage? Are those conversations happening right now?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah, for sure. All of those would be applicable for this. And I think one thing that's very important is I think people know that health care is a highly regulated market. And one of the benefits of this particular product is that it is compliant with health care regulations, such as the Medicare Advantage recipient or a Medicaid recipient that organizations would need to follow. So it's purpose-built for that.

BRIAN SOZZI: Megan, how is the driver shortage weighing on your efforts to get health care out there more broadly?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah. Well, certainly, wait times for rides are up. So thankfully, we're seeing in areas where drivers have access to the vaccine that those wait times are going down. In the health care business, we're starting to see demand really go up as people try and go to get their vaccines, of course, and get back to their routine medical appointments.

Lyft saw this coming months ago and started putting out bonuses and incentives to get drivers back into the market. So we're starting to see the fruits of that. But to be sure, I think travel, restaurants, airlines are all ramping back up. And we're part of that group.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Beyond health care as well, I know that there have been discussions about things like sort of mimicking Meals on Wheels, but you can't really get into sort of the same space with checking in on individuals, specifically seniors and those who are recovering. Is there any look at that segment, though, for food, specifically, or helping individuals who can't move around but live on their own?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, in-home care is a huge part of health care right now. Certainly, that's been accelerated by the pandemic. You know, early on about a year ago, we started getting into delivery-- so working with food banks, working with health insurance organizations and health systems who are obviously realizing that food, housing, those types of things are very important to people's health. So I think over the course of the pandemic, we delivered over 1 million meals to people and will continue to do that as people are isolated and need help within their homes.

MYLES UDLAND: And then, Megan, finally, before we let you go, I'm just curious how you guys thought about the future of Lyft and the health and safety regulations that you've put in place. We talked to Delta earlier on in the program-- asked them about do they want to have a vaccine passport situation. They're kind of lukewarm on the idea. I don't know if they're really going to go down that path. How are you guys thinking about things like that-- ways to ID drivers or riders who want to broadcast that they've been vaccinated or not?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah. Well, it's certainly a hot topic. And I think every single organization across the country is wrestling how to handle that. We have a team looking at things like that. But for right now, we're going to keep going the way that we're going.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, Megan Callahan, Vice President of Health Care over at Lyft, appreciate the time this morning. Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani, thanks for jumping on as well. We'll talk to you both soon.