Does Medicare Cover Transportation to Medical Appointments?

Medicare Benefits


Are you wondering if Medicare provides any type of transportation services to and from doctor’s offices, medical appointments, or non-emergency care? Original Medicare typically doesn’t provide transportation for a routine doctor’s visit. However, Part B may cover transportation when deemed medically necessary, while Part A may cover transportation services if it’s an emergency.

TIP: Use our plan finder to discover Medicare Advantage plans that may include certain transportation services and benefits. Or, you can call to speak with a Licensed Sales Agent who can answer your Medicare questions: 877-882-1927.

Does Medicare Pay for Transportation?

Aging in place is the ability to continue living at home as you age, delaying or avoiding institutional living. From decluttering and installing grab bars to bathroom renovations, there are many senior lifehacks to help make life easier and safer at home. Even if you are able to create a safe environment, there may be other things to consider.

For instance, if you have a car your family may be concerned that declining vision or slowing reflexes will increase your risk of a car accident. Suppose you live in a suburban or rural area where public transportation is out of reach. Even if you have family and friends nearby to help, you may feel this is an imposition. Public transit and ride-sharing services are likely more accessible in urban areas but challenging if you use a walker or cane.

While you can have groceries and medications delivered to your door, conduct your banking online, and use telehealth virtual doctor visits for mild medical issues, there are times when you may still need to get to medical appointments. 

TIP: Discover the top 5 transportation challenges facing seniors.

Does Health Insurance Pay for Travel?

Original Medicare generally excludes coverage for non-emergency transportation like appointments to and from your primary care physician. There may be other options that preserve your independence and keep you on the move. 

Although Original Medicare doesn’t cover rides to medical appointments, Medicare Part A will cover emergency ambulance transport for an in-patient hospital stay. Medicare Part B covers transportation to medically necessary outpatient services at a skilled nursing facility or hospital. Your share of the cost is the Part B deductible and 20% coinsurance.  

If you have an urgent, medically necessary condition and using another vehicle might endanger you, the situation would qualify as an emergency. If ground transportation cannot immediately and quickly move you to the facility, Medicare may pay for emergency air transport in a plane or helicopter.

Does Medicare Cover Non-emergency Medical Transport?

There are scenarios where Medicare will cover non-emergency ambulance transport, which requires a doctor’s written order stating the medical need. For instance, someone with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who must get to a kidney dialysis center may qualify. A skilled nursing facility inpatient who needs a ride back and forth to the hospital for chemotherapy or radiation treatments may also be eligible. 

Medicare Advantage and Medically Necessary Transportation

Like Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA) covers medically necessary emergency and non-emergency ambulance transportation if you meet the criteria. MA plans have to provide the same benefits as Original Medicare Part A and Part B. 

However, MA plans may offer additional benefits, including transportation such as helping with the cost of rides to get to the doctor’s office. A Medicare Advantage plan may require pre-authorization and full benefits may be limited to network providers. See coverage details in the plan’s summary document and Evidence of Coverage (EOC).

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Alternative Senior Transportation Options

If you do not drive or are ready to give up your car, there are alternatives.  You don’t have to miss your doctor appointments or curtail your social life. Staying active and having access to your doctor’s office can help you maintain your good health as you age at home. 

Consider some of the following alternative transportation options for seniors:

  • Some areas have volunteer or low-cost organizations providing local transportation for seniors. Check with your town hall, community center, or senior center. If needed, inquire about wheelchair-accessible vans.
  • If you receive Medicare home health services, you should have access to a social worker or case manager. These professionals maintain a list of resources for transportation and other senior needs.
  • Contact the Eldercare Locator, a service of the Administration on Aging. You can use the online chat tool or call 1-800-677-1116.
  • There are organizations like that connect people with individuals who offer housekeeping, senior care and transportation services. Be sure to conduct interviews and check references before you hire anyone privately.
  • Federal regulations state that Medicaid recipients can qualify for round-trip transportation when necessary, but each state defines necessary differently. If you have Medicaid and do not have a working car, driver’s license, or the physical ability to take public transportation alone, ask your caseworker if Medicaid will pay for ride services.

How Do I Get Transportation Services Through Medicare?

Explore Medicare Advantage plans with transportation benefits with the online plan finder. If you don’t already have an MA plan, you can enroll during the next Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October 15 to December 7. If you are a current MA member, you can switch to a different MA plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), January 1 to March 31.

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