The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee wants to prevent sky-high air ambulance bills by forming contracts with air ambulance companies. The cost of getting transported by an air ambulance is steep not just in the state but all across the country. And with states being unable to regulate the cost of these transport services, patients get hit with bills amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.
Striking Increase in air Ambulance Bills Noticed
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee has been observing the changes in air ambulance costs over the years. And they have noticed a striking increase in those costs in recent years, according to their chief communications officer, Roy Vaughn.
They have noticed a 73% increase in air ambulance costs between 2013 and 2016. While their costs for air ambulance in 2013 were $29.1 million, they needed to spend $50.3 million during 2016. During this same timeframe, there was also an increase in the number of patients transported by air ambulance companies. The number increased by 17% from 1,780 to 2,088.
Proposals Sent to 14 Air Ambulance Companies
The insurance provider has reached out to 14 companies that provide transport by air ambulance. Their contracts offer to pay five times more than what is being paid by Medicare. According to the state Department of Health, there are 12 licensed air ambulance providers in Tennessee. In addition to these 12, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee is also trying to contract providers who don’t fly in to the state too often to require licenses.
If these companies agree to work with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee, residents of the state will no longer be faced with excessive charges for being transported by an air ambulance.