BENEFITS EXPERT: Help with costs when needing to travel for hospital tests
Q. I am receiving medical treatment and my GP has referred me for tests which may require further treatment at a hospital. The hospital I’ll have to attend is outside my home town, I’m on Income Based ESA and PIP for care.
I am worried about paying for the travel costs as this may leave me without money for normal day to day expenses. Can I get help for travel costs and is it possible to get an advance payment?
A. Help is available for travel costs for people in receipt of benefits as well as those on low incomes. You may already have a certificate entitling you to help with eye tests, dental charges, etc. and this can be used (as long as the certificate is still valid) to claim any travel costs incurred. If you need to make an application for an advance payment, then you can complete a HC5 form which is available online.
You will need to provide an indication of the likely cost and it is expected that you use the cheapest form of transport that is suitable for your circumstances, such as age, medical conditions, etc. If you travel by car, whether by your own or a friend/family member then you will be reimbursed for the mileage rate set by your local clinic commission.
The hospital where you receive the treatment may have the facilities to reimburse you on the day of your treatment at the cashier’s office. You will be required to provide the appropriate proof of the cost of your journey. You can also claim refunds for any past visits as long as these are no more than three months old.
In certain situations, you may also be eligible to have travel costs paid to an escort if you require someone to accompany you to the hospital but generally you will require evidence from a health professional that there are medical reasons why you need someone to attend.
Similarly, treatment for children under 16 means parents/guardians can be reimbursed for their costs as well as those of their child. Policy can vary from area to area so it is advisable to check with your local clinical commissioning group.
Finally, if you have to visit a hospital outside your area for treatments such as breast cancer/cervical cancer screenings then this type of treatment is excluded from the scheme and you cannot be reimbursed.