Transportation resources for cancer patients

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on October 10th, 2019

A cancer diagnosis can be costly and require long-term care. As part of the treatment, you may have to make regular trips to your treatment center. Your expenses may include payments for the transportation and the care you receive. If you are participating in a clinical trial, you may have additional cost-related factors to consider.

Take chemotherapy, for example. If based on your cancer type your medical team recommends chemotherapy, you may get chemo once a day, once a week, or even once a month. The treatment may be given a few days in a row or in one day. It all depends on the drugs you're getting and the type of cancer you have. The time span of treatment varies from person to person and it depends on the type of cancer you have, the treatment goals, and how your body works with the drugs.

A treatment center facility that is located far from your home may mean transportation assistance and extra expenses. Examples of transportation and travel expenses include airplane fares, bus or train fares, gas, tolls, parking, or taxis. Finances are often a source of stress and anxiety in these situations. Sometimes, costs can even keep people from completing treatment, increasing health risks. If possible, it is encouraged to rely on family or friends to transport you to a treatment center facility. Patients' morale generally improves when family members or supportive friends play an active role in their treatment. However, no matter the situation, transportation should never be a roadblock to getting cancer treatment. And you've got enough burdens already without worrying about getting to a treatment facility.

The first step to access the best option for you is to talk to your care team. If you cannot get to a treatment facility on your own and you need a ride, talk to the social workers that may be available at your treatment center. They may be available to provide transportation from certain locations or help you identify other transportation resources.

Transportation resources for cancer patients

  • Medicaid's Transportation Services If you have Medicaid and are in non-emergency situations, you may be eligible for rides, offered by taxi, car, van, or a form of public transportation, to appointments for approved care. To find out if you are eligible, call your Medicaid caseworker.
  • National Volunteer Transportation Center The center has available on its webpage a map listing volunteer transportation providers in each state.
  • American Cancer Society 'Road To Recovery' Program (206-215-6557/1-800-ACS-2345) The program can offer you and a caregiver, transportation to the treatment center, provided by volunteer drivers.
  • National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (866-983-3222) If you are an older patient, this center promotes the availability and accessibility of transportation options and works with Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116) to provide transportation information and resources.
  • Check all the public transportation options in your city, especially the paratransit operations. Talk to your care team about the possibility of using public transportation and check the schedules to see what route works for you. Also, check if there are paratransit services available in your location, specially designed to provide an option for people who are unable to use the fixed-route transportation system.
  • Ride-Sharing Services In the past few years, these services have become increasingly popular and they may be a cheaper alternative than taxis. If you are going to use this transportation option, it's better to travel with a friend or caregiver.

Help with the costs related to local transportation for cancer care

  • Angel Wheels to Healing (800-768-0238) A non-profit corporation that can provide for you non-emergency, long-distance ground transportation, especially if you are financially needy. The organization utilizes commercial ground transportation as well as volunteer drivers who own motor coaches to fulfill missions that are typically between 70 - 250 miles (one-way).
  • Angel Flight (918-749-8992) A non-profit charitable organization of pilots and volunteers who can arrange for you free air transportation, if you are financially distressed, or are in a time-critical, non-emergency situation due to your medical condition.
  • The Air Care Alliance This organization provides a list of all the nonprofit volunteer flying groups.
  • Corporate Angel Network (914-328-1313) Organization that provides free flights to treatment on empty seats, on both corporate and private planes. Eligibility is not based on financial need and is open if you are ambulatory and not in need of care while traveling.
  • National Patient Travel Center (800-296-1217) The center informs you about how the air transportation network can help you with forms of long-distance, charitable medical air transportation and you can get referrals to other sources of help.
  • Grace on Wings (877-754-7223) Charity air ambulance, flying only throughout the continental U.S. The charity donates all professional services; however, you or the insurance company must cover the direct cost of fuel, maintenance, and insurance for the aircraft. Transport is available if you are too ill for long-distance ground transportation, for commercial flight, and unable to afford transportation.
  • Air Charity Network (877-621-7177) Provides free flights if you require medical treatment and serves all 50 states.
  • Flying for Hope This organization can assist you and your family in the event of an emergency or crisis by providing bus & train tickets and financial assistance for air travel.
  • Disabled American Veterans (DAV) (877-426-2838) Offers a transportation assistance program.
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Patient Aid Program If you are a blood cancer patient, this program offers a yearly set limit for reimbursement of expenses related to diagnosis and treatment, e.g., taxi rides.
  • Grind for Life (561-252-3839) Organization that provides financial assistance if you have to travel for treatment. The organization was started by a skateboarding cancer survivor.
  • Patient Advocate Foundation (800-532-5274) Provides direct services and helps you access care and treatment recommended by your doctor. Offers a Metastatic Breast Cancer Financial Aid Fund if you are a stage III and IV breast cancer patient that provides a $600 grant to cover various non-medical related expenses including transportation assistance and a Merkel Cell Carcinoma Financial Aid Fund that provides a one time grant for transportation expenses.
  • Allyson Whitney Foundation Provides grants ranging from $500-$1,500 if your age is between 16-36 and you are diagnosed with rare cancer to cover a wide range of needs, including travel expenses.
  • The Actors Fund (800-221-7303) This fund can be of help if you are a professional in entertainment and the performing arts. It offers several services, including help with transportation. The Fund is administered in offices in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
  • The Samfund (617-938-3484) Provides support if you are a young adult aged 21-39 struggling financially due to cancer. The fund gives grants twice a year to help with the costs of transportation.
  • Good Days (877-968-7233) This organization can help you have access to the care you need by paying for your travel costs.
  • CancerCareThe organization can provide you with limited financial assistance for transportation-related expenses, depending on your location and diagnosis.
  • Fisher House Foundation The foundation operates a program that brings family members to the bedside of ill service members by using the donated frequent flyer miles.