Medical air transportation companies have been helping save countless lives, often under dramatic circumstances, and have undoubtedly brought quicker emergency medical care to certain rural areas of the world. In the U.S. alone, air medical transport is providing approximately 82 million Americans access to Level I or II trauma centers in under 60 minutes. However, air ambulance costs are also leaving many patients financially vulnerable, catching them off guard with massive bills, which their health provider doesn’t cover. Most patients are left wondering how a relatively short ride can end up costing so much.
The Lifeline called Air Medical Transport
According to AAMS (The Association of Air Medical Services), around 30% of the U.S. population depends on air medical transport for the access of urgent medical care. There are numerous rural areas where advanced medical care is absent and people who experience serious trauma or require specialty care in such locations depend upon medical air transport to get them the help they need.
Generally, when a patient requires emergency or specialized medical care, the first priority is to get them urgent medical care as fast as possible. Patients usually do not know how they will be transported or if the medical air transport cost falls under their coverage - one of the reasons why many patients are shocked by the bill.
Medical Air Transport Cost Variables
Every year approximately $3 million is required to keep a medical air transport base operational 24/7 and for 365 days. For the most part, according to AAMS, the medical air transport cost remains the same despite the air base location. However, determining the medical air transport cost is not as straightforward as it might seem. As stated by NAIC (The National Association of Insurance Commissioners), the average air ambulance cost for a 52 mile trip falls somewhere between $12,000 to $25,000 per flight which can reach as high as $6 million depending on the medical equipment and maintenance. There are several other factors that are involved in determining the medical air transport cost, including the severity of the medical condition, number of crew on board, round-the-clock availability of specialized personnel and the medical evacuation costs of going back to the U.S. from another country.
A study conducted by the Montana Legislature shows that air ambulance costs are generally divided into two main parts: the liftoff fees and per-mile charges. Now, while the former ranges between $8,500 to $15,200, the latter can be anywhere from $26 to $133 per mile. A few states, including Montana and Maryland are now investigating the wide range air ambulance pricing by addressing the issue through various bills and many hope that other states follow suit. The good news is that some medical air transport companies, like AirMed, offer membership programs to protect their customers from huge bills, leaving them with no cost beyond what their health coverage pays.
Air Ambulance Cost: Is it worth the cost of a life?
Air medical transport services are largely useful in emergency medical situations or when timing is of the essence in aiding a patient to receive urgent medical treatment. Under such circumstances a patient cannot refuse or negotiate the cost pertaining to medical air transport. Most insurers will pay a reasonable air ambulance cost, especially if the individual requires emergency transportation that is not possible on the ground. Many insurers will only cover the medical transportation services to the nearest facility and do not provide air ambulance cost coverage outside of the U.S. Sometimes they might even disagree on the cost determined by the medical air transport company and that’s when the remainder of the bill, depending on the circumstances, falls as the patient’s responsibility.
Typically, health care coverage includes the medical care a patient requires during transportation, such as life support and oxygen while the flight price will cover ‘bedside to bedside’ service, which includes transportation to and from the aircraft. One of the best protections you can provide yourself and your loved ones is to find out about air ambulance coverage long before anyone experiences a medical emergency and see if you are provided with or can purchase extra medical transport coverage from your insurer.
Leveraging Medical Air Transport Cost Coverage
The financial coverage for emergency medical air transport varies from state to state, by insurance type and company. Air ambulance costs are sometimes included under travel coverage or health security policies. Financial coverage for air ambulance comes in handy when someone gets injured while traveling or requires specialized medical care due to an emergency or a medical condition in a location where healthcare services for the specific medical situation are not available. Generally, an air ambulance cost is covered by companies providing health coverage if a patient receives a letter of medical necessity or if an attending physician at an emergency deems it necessary, but you should never assume that and check with the coverage provider for full air ambulance cost support.
Even though medical air transport and air ambulance costs are not something you would normally think about, it is still important to review your coverage in advance so you can choose a policy that best suits your needs with reasonable deductibles and low expenses.
Affordable Medical Air Transport Cost Plans by AirMed
As one of the leading air medical transport companies in the world, AirMed provides unparalleled specialized medical care and bedside to bedside transportation across the world. We are a preferred medical air transport operator of many around the globe as well as for the U.S. Department of Defense. AirMed proudly boasts a highly experienced medical crew, fully customized and permanently configured air medical transport jets and accredited medical air transport services. We also offer annual, short-term, extended stay and student plans for air medical transport services 24/7 - delivering an uncompromising standard of care because we believe that every life is worth saving!
For more information about AirMed or to purchase a membership plan, click here.