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Does Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Medical Travel Expenses?

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Under most situations and normal circumstances, neither Medicaid nor Medicare covers non-emergency travel expenses. Emergency transportation, like an ambulance to an emergency room, is covered. Medical travel for non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), like routine visits to your doctor or the hospital, however, are generally not included in Medicare or Medicaid coverage plans.

There are some exceptions for those with Original Medicare, for example, if you don’t have a valid driver’s license or if it’s unsafe for you to drive. For more information, use this link. Medicare is a national program and the rules are generally the same across states. Medicaid programs are funded by the state, so if you qualify for Medicaid coverage, you should research the specifics of the plan in your state.

If you are traveling long distance by air to a medical center of excellence for specialized care, you will be responsible for the cost of the airfare, plus transportation to and from the airport or car rental expenses. Even in rare situations where particular criteria are met for medical travel coverage, other travel-related expenses are left for the patients and their families to cover.

Photo by <strong><a href=httpsunsplashcomacton crawford>Acton Crawford<a><strong> on <a href=httpsunsplashcom>Unsplash<a>

Non-Insurance Travel Options for Medical Care and Treatment

There are options for financial assistance with medical travel.

For local transportation

  • Public transportation. Public Transportation Agencies in many major cities provide ride services in medical vans for medical travel. Do a web search for the city of the facility to find the public transit authority’s website. The medical facility website may also have transportation information on their website.
  • Hospital shuttle services. Some medical facilities may operate shuttle buses to nearby hotels, if you are traveling from a long distance and staying over night. Contact the facility’s social work department for more information.
  • Cab vouchers. Some medical facilities may have cab vouchers available. Contact the facility’s social work department for more information.
  • Rideshare. Uber and Lyft both have specialized services for medical transportation. Visit their websites or contact the facility’s social work department for more information.
  • Local nonprofits. There are charitable ground transportation nonprofits in some areas. FindHelp.Org is a good resource for finding social service agencies in local areas.
  • Gas cards. Some nonprofit agencies provide gas cards to cover transportation in your own vehicle. For example, contact Angel Wheels (

For long distance transportation, there are a number of nonprofit organizations that can assist with long distance, non-emergency travel for medical treatment. The Air Care Alliance has a comprehensive directory of services nationwide, and allows you to complete your flight request once and easily route it to the most appropriate resource. You can also get more information about Free and Discounted Airline Tickets from this link.

When the Cost of Traveling for Medical Treatment becomes a Burden

Angel Flight West provides free non-emergency medical transportation in the western U.S for people who cannot afford the cost. We know the cost of air travel can be prohibitive, which means needed treatment is often put off or never received. Our goal is to give you full access to the care you need at no cost to you.

Since our founding in 1983, Angel Flight West has provided nearly 100,000 flights for thousands of people. Our private volunteer pilots fly their own or rented aircraft and donate the flight costs to Angel Flight West. When a small aircraft is impractical, we partner with major air carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, Contour Airlines, JSX, and Hawaiian Airlines. We also have volunteer drivers called Earth Angels who assist with the ground portion of our donated trips.

If the cost of traveling for medical treatment has become a burden for you, we encourage you to find out more about our services, request a flight now if you have a scheduled medical appointment that you need to travel more than 100 miles to, or contact our office at [email protected] or (310) 390-2958. We look forward to serving you.

4 responses to “Does Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Medical Travel Expenses?”

  1. Donna Avatar

    Hi, my name is Donna. I am writing because I need reliable transportation for dr’s visits mainly, I don’t drive I walk or ride a bike. However, in the summer time in Phoenix Az it’s not recommended to walk in 115* degree weather.? I need transportation on the same day for appts . Is that possible to find???

  2. betty fox Avatar
    betty fox

    I am scheduled with UofW eye institute for eye melanoma proton treatments every day the week pf Aug 8 I live in Puyallup South Hill and must travel to the Proton Center at Northwest Hospital each day. My husband is having chemo for cancer that has returned, often he doesn’s feel up to driving. My question is do you have transportation available and what the cost would be.

  3. webmaster Avatar

    Hi Donna, for local ground transportation to medical appointments, we recommend using and searching for services based on your Zip code, or using, which also has referrals to organizations that can help with local ground transportation.

  4. webmaster Avatar

    I would suggest using and searching for services based on your Zip code, or using, which also has referrals to organizations that can help with local ground transportation. Angel Flight West provides air transportation, so that trip is too short of a distance.

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