Air ambulance service providers have often been dragged to scrutiny owing to bills that run into thousands of dollars. However, this practice is slated to end with the introduction of the new bill passed by Congress. This federal bill will come into effect in the year 2020. It was a part of the package aimed at offering Coronavirus economic relief. It covers not just air ambulance services but also a slew of medical services. In this context, it must be noted that air ambulance costs are considered among the highest in the medical industry. The bill was passed amid heavy lobbying by all involved parties such as insurers, employers, interest and advocacy groups, and the air ambulance industry.
How does the Congressional Bill Affect Air Ambulance Services?
The air ambulance service providers will no longer be able to hold patients accountable for the balance bill that remains unpaid by the insurance companies. This specifically applies to out-of-network medical flight services. The price negotiation will be held only between the service providers and the insurance companies. Both parties will get sufficient time to negotiate the price. Failing to reach an agreement will take the dispute to arbitration and the decision by the arbitrator will be final.
Surprise Bill Becomes a Patient Choice
The patients can still voluntarily opt for an out-of-network air ambulance service. However, patient consent will be needed 72 hours prior. The patient will also be given a rough estimate of the cost involved beforehand. However, any out-of-network services availed during an emergency where there is no scope for waiting or taking consent will not result in a balance or surprise bill for the patients. The air ambulance companies will have to accept the payouts by the insurers or what is allowed by the arbitrator. For the patients who are worried about huge out-of-pocket expenses, the bill comes as a welcome relief.