Transportation Services

Getting to and from the hospital for treatment can be a major problem for some people who feel too sick to drive or who don't have family members to help them. This is especially true for people receiving daily radiation therapy.

The availability of transportation services varies from community to community, but most fall into one of three categories: volunteer programs, transportation through community agencies, and private transportation.

Volunteer Programs: In some communities, local religious groups and community agencies offer volunteer transportation services. Volunteers take people to and from treatment centers and other medical facilities. If you want this service, you must call in advance, usually 48 hours, to make arrangements.

Transportation Services Through Community Agencies: This service is free to those who meet the eligibility criteria. These criteria vary depending on the community agency that funds the service.

Private Transportation Services: Two kinds of private transportation services are available, depending on whether the person with cancer is able to walk. If you can walk, transportation is provided by a van, and several people may ride in the van at the same time. These companies are subsidized through the Pennsylvania Lottery and offer transportation for a reduced fee for people over 65.

If you are unable to walk, ambulance service is available, either through a community or private service. Ambulance services base their fees on a predetermined rate schedule. In small communities the estimated base fee is between $40 and $80, plus a per-mile charge (the average is $1 per mile). In metropolitan areas, the estimated fee ranges between $70 and $150, with an additional charge of about $2 per mile. Rates vary from one ambulance company to another. Check with the company you choose about its rates. Also ask if the company is willing to bill Medicare, Medical Assistance, private insurance, or another payment source directly.


  1. Car transportation to and from the hospital for doctor's visits and chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Some programs offer transportation only to medical-care or treatment facilities. Others also offer transportation to social-service agencies and shopping centers.

  2. Ambulance transportation for admission to or discharge from the hospital.


  1. Contact the social worker at your hospital or call 1-800-4-CANCER or 1-800-537- 4063 for resource listings.

  2. Volunteer transportation services are often available from local churches, organizations, or your American Cancer Society.

  3. For transportation services sponsored by community agencies, contact your Area Agency on Aging, Department of Public Welfare, or your local ACS unit.

  4. For private transportation services, look under "Ambulance Services" in the Yellow Pages of your phone book.


  • With volunteer transportation services, you may have to share a ride with other persons being transported to the same facility. This may mean a short wait until the other passengers have received their treatment before returning home. Also, you may not be able to take family members along. Check with the person who will provide the transportation.

  • You may qualify for transportation services even if you are not eligible under Area Agency on Aging or Department of Public Welfare criteria. Check with the transportation provider. A letter from your doctor is usually required. It should state that you are unable to walk and therefore cannot be transported any other way.

  • Some insurance companies pay for transportation by ambulance. Check if yours covers this service.

  • Some hospitals provide vans to transport patients to their facilities. Check with your doctor, nurse, or the social worker to see if your hospital provides this service.

  • Medicare will not pay for ambulance transportation from your home to your doctor's office. It may help pay for ambulance transportation to the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, between the hospital and skilled nursing facility, from the hospital or skilled nursing facility to your home, if transportation in any other vehicle could endanger your health. You will need a letter of medical necessity from your doctor. If you are unable to walk and you need daily radiation therapy, you may be covered under Medicare if your doctor writes a letter of medical necessity.

  • Don't hesitate to ask family and friends for help with your transportation needs. People don't want to take advantage of others, but often they want to help, and this would provide them with the opportunity.

  • Some local ACS units will arrange for volunteer drivers or will reimburse you at a set rate per mile for distance traveled to cancer-care facilities.