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Patient Transportation Fees

There are many travel options for patients requiring transport to or from a hospital, or requiring transport between hospitals or residential care facilities. 

If you have Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage:

Ambulance trips to hospital (911 calls)*

  • If you are taken to a hospital by ground or air ambulance, the BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) will bill you $80.
  • If an ambulance is requested and then declined, you will receive a bill for $50.
  • If you receive Income Assistance or MSP Premium Assistance you will not be charged.

*This does not apply to calls that are part of WorkSafeBC claims.

Hospital to hospital transfer trips

If you must be transferred from your present hospital to another hospital:

  • There is no charge for medically necessary transfers between acute care hospitals.

When you leave the hospital

  • If you need medical care when you leave hospital and need to travel by ground or air ambulance, you will be charged $80 (this fee is waived if you are on Income Assistance or MSP Premium Assistance).
  • If you do not need medical care but are not well enough to travel on your own (e.g. by private care, friend, taxi, Handidart) then a non-emergency patient transfer service, (e.g. LIFESUPPORT) is recommended. You will be charged a one-way $60 flat fee inside urban areas and an $80 flat fee beyond an urban area. (This fee is waived if you are on Income Assistance or MSP Premium Assistance).
  • If you are well enough to travel on your own, you are responsible for organizing and paying for your journey home regardless of the distance.  For example, if you have been transferred by air ambulance to a Vancouver hospital for cardiac surgery, it is your responsibility to organize and pay for your trip home.
  • If a patient passes away while in hospital, the patient’s family is responsible for organizing and paying to have the deceased returned home. A hospital Social Worker can assist and support the family during this time.

If you do NOT have Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage:

You will be charged patient transfers to/from or between hospitals if you do not have coverage under MSP.

  • If you need medical care along the way and need an ambulance to transport you, you will receive a bill for each section of your transfer based on the type of transport:

    • Ground: $530 flat rate
    • Air ambulance (airplane): $7 per mile ($4.34/km)
    • Air ambulance (helicopter): $2,746 per hour
  • If you do not need medical care, but are not well enough to travel on your own, then a non-emergency patient transfer service, such as LIFESUPPORT, is recommended (fees range).
  • If you are well enough to travel on your own, you are responsible for organizing and paying for your journey regardless of the distance.
  • If a patient passes away while in hospital, the patient’s family is responsible for organizing and paying to have the deceased returned home. A hospital Social Worker can assist and support the family during this time.

Travel assistance when accessing medical care outside your community

If you have a planned hospital appointment for a service not available in your community, it is your responsibility to arrange and pay for your trip to/from this appointment.

There are programs that may help eligible patients with some of the travel and accommodation costs:

Payment information (this includes federal programs and private coverage)

The patient or patient’s family is responsible for checking for possible coverage and reimbursements:

  • Federal programs (e.g., Veteran Affairs Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) may cover some of these fees for their clients.
  • If you are a residential care client and the transportation fees result in financial hardship, please speak to your case manager, or the social worker at your residential care facility about applying for a temporary residential care fee reduction.
  • Some private plans may assist with the costs of patient transportation (e.g., ICBC, WorkSafeBC, or a private insurer).
  • When you are charged fees you will receive a bill in the mail.
  • If you receive a bill and believe you should not be charged because you receive Income Assistance or MSP Premium Assistance, please contact the billing department (contact information is noted on the bill).