The doctors want my husband to get radiation therapy for the next six weeks, five days a week. I don’t drive, and I’m afraid my husband won’t feel well enough after his treatments to drive himself. How is he going to get back and forth for his treatments?
Insurance policies seldom cover the cost of transportation to and from routine medical appointments, but check his insurance plan anyway, just to be sure. If your husband is being treated at a major cancer center at some distance from where you live, you can ask the doctors at the center if there are other medical centers closer to your home where your husband can receive the same treatments.
This will make arranging a transportation schedule easier with the assistance of family and friends who might be able to provide rides for your husband to his appointments.
Sometimes help from friends and family is not enough; you may need to explore other options. One is to pay privately for car service or an ambulette, if you have the financial resources. Hospitals close to home may provide free or low-cost transport services to and from medical treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Financial assistance is also sometimes available from local chapters of national cancer support organizations, such as CancerCare, Inc., and the American Cancer Society, if you can demonstrate financial need.
Another option is to look into public and nonprofit transportation programs for the disabled or aged, if your husband qualifies. Most communities, for example, have paratransit programs to complement the local public transportation system. If you are unable to use public transportation because of a physical impairment or medical condition, paratransit may be avail-able to take you door-to-door to your desired destination for the same cost as taking a bus. Advance reservations are required, however; contact your state or local Department of Transportation for details about their program and how to apply for service.
Similarly, there may be van service available for senior citizens in your community, sponsored by the government or by community organizations such as churches and voluntary charities, to help you get back and forth between home and the hospital or clinic.
Another problem that can arise, even when patients or family are able to drive, is the availability and cost of parking. A handicapped parking permit, available through your local municipality, may help. You don’t need to be wheelchair bound to qualify, but usually a letter from a physician is required.
The cost of parking in a parking garage per visit can also quickly add up over time, so if you and your husband are on a fixed income with limited resources, ask the social worker at the hospital or clinic where you are being treated whether there are any philanthropic programs or parking vouchers available either through their institution or organizations like CancerCare, Inc., that might be able to provide financial assistance.