How To Travel To Get A Diagnosis Or Treatment
Before You Travel
Check to be sure whether you can find a diagnosis, second opinion or treatment nearby where you live.
- Second opinions can often be obtained without leaving home. (For information about second opinions, including how to obtain one, click here.)
- Keep in mind that most cancer treatments can be given in any cancer center. The key word here is "most." There are some treatments that require a refined approach.
If you do indeed need to travel to another cancer center:
- Think about:
- The total cost of care including travel and room and board.
- Your insurance:
- If your health insurance policy has in and out of network provisions, if a distant facility is out of your insurance network, include the uninsured costs.
- If your policy does not cover, consider filing for an exception. If not granted, consider appealing. We show you how. (The treatment facility may be able to help.)
- The availability of support. For example, consider looking for a facility in an area where you have family or friends. They can provide a valuable support network - and often can provide free housing, meals and local transportation.
- When considering the cost, include the cost of maintaining your home as well as the cost of staying in another location.
- Consider the care you may need outside of the treatment facility because of the effects of the treatment. think about how much care and when you will need it.
- Contact the facility in which you will receive a second opinion or treatment. Care faclities often offer help in planning travel.
- Think about your needs when you return home and how they will be filled.
- If you have a short life expectancy, weigh the possible benefits against the time you will be spending away from your loved ones.
- Travel by air
- If you travel for a diagnosis or treatment there are at least two non-profit organizations that fly people who can't afford to travel for free. For information, click here.
- If you do not qualify for free travel, call all the airlines that service the route you need to travel and see if they will offer discounts for people traveling because of health reasons. Note that you will have to disclose the reason and likely be flexible as to what flight to take.
- If you are traveling to obtain less expensive treatment (Medical Tourism), click here.
- If money is a consideration,
- See: Traveling For Free To Get A Diagnosis Or Treatment
- Financial assistance to help with travel costs may be available from such groups as Cancer Care , the travel fund at Alex's Lemonade Stand and for people affected by sarcome, the Eric D. Davis Foundation .
- Think about asking a family member or friend to donate their air mileage awards so you can fly for free. If one person doesn't have enough miles, perhaps the airline will allow you to combine the mileage awards from several people.
At Your Destination
Look for affordable housing. Following are a few tips:
- Free lodging
- The American Cancer Society has free housing for patients and caregivers who travel for treatment in Hope Lodges in many cities. In addition to housing, the facilities feature communal kitchens, and activity rooms. They also have support services. There is no charge. Eligibility requirements vary by location. To find a Hope Lodge, see:www.cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/hopelodge/index or Tel.: 800.ACS.2345
- American Cancer Society can also help patients find free rooms in private hotels through its resource finder
- Free or discounted rooms are available at facilities run by the Healthcare Hospitality Network
- Patients under the age of 21 and their families can find free lodging at Ronald McDonald House Charitie s
- Military families can find housing at Fisher Houses
- Some states' Medicaid Programs pay for temporary lodging if a patient has to travel for treatment.
- Many cancer centers have facilities for people who are staying for treatment for a period of time. Charges are low. If a center doesn't have its own facility, it likely has arrangements with nearby hotels or B and Bs so you can stay for a discounted price.
- Many hotels offer discounted "medical rates.". Some even provide rooms for free.
- Organizations that help find housing include the following:
- The National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses helps patients and caregivers locate housing around the country. See: www.nahhh.org
- Check the web site of Joes House: www.JoesHouse.org or call 877-563-7468. The organization lists options for patients and their families, from discounted hotel rooms to free apartments.
- NOTE: Check your health insurance policy. It may provide travel and lodging benefits.
If You Are Considering Traveling Abroad For Diagnosis And/Or Treatment
Travel outside or inside the U.S. for medical reasons is known as Medical Tourism. To learn about Medical Tourism, click here.
For general information about travel for people with a health condition, including how to prepare, how to travel, and what to do at your destination(s), click here.