Does Medicare cover ambulance and transportation services?

We sincerely hope you never need an ambulance to take you to the hospital, but you’ll be happy to know that Medicare will cover it in many situations.

Medicare coverage for emergency ambulance transportation

Medicare Part B covers ground ambulance transportation when you need to be transported to a hospital, critical access hospital or skilled nursing facility for medically necessary services and transportation in any other vehicle could endanger your health.

In some cases, Medicare may pay for limited, medically necessary, nonemergency ambulance transportation if you have a written order from your doctor stating that ambulance transportation is medically necessary. For example, you may need a medically necessary ambulance transport to a dialysis facility if you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD).1

If you want to skip the facility that’s closest to you in favor of a facility that's farther away, know that Medicare will cover only the cost of taking you to the closest appropriate facility. But if no facility in your area can give you the care you need, Medicare will pay for you to be taken to the nearest facility that can.

If you have a sudden, serious medical emergency (such as shock, heavy bleeding or another situation that requires skilled medical care on your way to the hospital), Medicare might cover an ambulance ride if you can't be safely transported by a car or taxi.

If your condition is so serious that ground transportation isn't fast enough, Medicare might cover the cost of an air ambulance, either a plane or a helicopter.

In addition, your situation must meet at least 1 of the following conditions:

  • You can't easily be reached by ground transportation
  • Long distances or heavy traffic could prevent you from getting care soon enough if you traveled by ground

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Medicare coverage for nonemergency ambulance transportation

In a nonemergency situation, Medicare may still cover an ambulance ride to a hospital or health facility if your doctor writes an order saying that your medical condition makes it necessary. In addition, if you have ESRD, Medicare might cover ambulance transportation to or from a dialysis center.1

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  1. “Ambulance services,”, last accessed May 3, 2023,