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Medical Flights and Access to Timely Medical Care


Shutting down of community hospitals and merging together of public services related to health – this seems to be a trend that is never-ending and has been going on for over a decade now. The increased cost of keep these practices afloat is the main cause of their shutdown. Another factor is the sparse population of the rural regions. In other words, for-profit hospitals, due to a narrow customer base, have no real incentive to stay open. In the midst of all this, what come to the rescue of the rural communities are medical flights.

Medical Flights are the Bridge to Appropriate Care

The closure of rural hospitals and merging of services is resulting in fewer hospitals per person. Besides, the commute to reach to the nearest hospital is now more than ever for residents of such regions. Take for instance Glendive, which is a small town in Montana. It takes about 3-1/2 hours to reach to an appropriate treating facility if a person has a stroke. The medical flights, however, reduce this duration by almost 50%.

Air Ambulance Industry is Now Moving Away from Rural America

The problem of low reimbursement rates by health insurance companies and also a small customer base is now driving medical flights away from rural towns. What most people do not understand is that it is much more expensive to maintain a fleet of medical flights in smaller towns. The reason behind it is the maintenance cost that is not offset by a big customer base.

It must be taken into cognizance that the air ambulance companies are compelled to transfer the costs to their customers. When it is a fewer customers, the cost per head is obviously going to be high. The insurance industry, however, seems adamant at ignoring this fact.

For the Americans living in smaller towns, however, the situation continues to be dire.

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