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Insurance and Air Medical Transport


Here’s a startling statistic: ‘in the year 2017, about 69% of all air medical transport services carrying patients who are privately insurance were out-of-network’. In essence, although these patients were covered, their health insurance did not have a pre-negotiated rate for availing air medical transport services. This means the medical insurance provider is under no obligation to cover the entire amount that is raised in the bill by the air medical transport company. That’s not all. The air ambulance company, as a result, is compelled to reach out to the patient to recover the pending bill, which can run into thousands of dollars. Typically, owing to the cost of maintaining air ambulances at standby at all times, the charges are steep.

Patients Have No Control Over Availing Air Medical Transport Service

It is the treating physician who decides whether a patient needs air medical transport or not. Even if the patient refuses such a service, if the injury or the medical condition is life threatening, he or she has to toe the line laid down by the physician. This means that regardless of the patient’s financial situation or insurance coverage, he is obligated to avail such services. There is sense in such a rule. Why? Because life is more important than money.

What is the Solution?

One argument is that medical air transport service providers must not be allowed to operate in a particular area without forging an alliance with the medical insurance providers so that they are in-network. However, there is a problem. Such an understanding demands that the air ambulance companies confine themselves to billing within the limits set by the insurance companies. The air ambulance industry feels that this sum is not enough even to cover their costs, let alone leaving room for any profits. It is this contention that has caused problems for patients throughout the United States today.

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