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Travel for Treatment: Financial Assistance Options

It’s not uncommon for patients to need to travel great distances to a hospital that can provide cancer care, especially if they live in a rural area or have a rare type of cancer. The costs involved with traveling for treatment can become insurmountable very quickly.

For example, Texas Medical Center serves 10 million patients a year, many of whom come from out of the area for medical care.“International and out-of-town patients come with their own special considerations, including the need for accommodations for patients and caregivers who may not have transportation or know how long treatment will take.”(Schuetz, 3/7)

In addition to actual treatment costs, the financial burden that falls on patients regarding traveling for treatment can pose challenges to getting quality care. What happens when a patient needs to fly to a different state for treatment? What about when a patient doesn’t have family to help drive them to and from appointments?

Many companies have started to offer programs that help with ground transportation difficulties.

Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center launched Ride Health, a new program that works with Uber to offer transportation to patients who lack other means of getting to appointments for treatments like chemotherapy.

For patients who qualify, Medicaid provides nonemergency medical transportation benefits to help patients conveniently get to and from appointments for treatment.

Uber and Lyft individually have also launched their own programs. Earlier this year Uber launched the Uber Health dashboard, which lets health care workers order rides for patients to travel to and from doctors’ appointments.

What about patients that need assistance with air travel? You can find a handful of helpful air transportation resources on CancerFinances.org, including organizations that do their best to help offset the cost of airline tickets or if applicable, also offer free flights to qualified patients.

Airbnb also launched its Open Homes program, which can help provide lodging for people needing to travel to treatment. This program lets hosts offer their space for free to people going through a difficult time.

You can find other financial assistance resources related to lodging and more on CancerFinances.org.

For more in depth information about managing finances after cancer, visit TriageCancer.org/financial.

Samantha Skelton
ss@triagecancer.org