A recent survey, in which Kaiser Health was involved, revealed that the domestic medical flights in the United States of America cost anywhere between USD 28 thousand to USD 97 thousand. This brings to light the most important question: should life- saving services cost so much? We have time and again highlighted the fact that the bills that medical flights generate are not always covered by health insurance companies. The operator is free to charge the consumer with the amount that is left uncovered by the health insurance company and it is perfectly legal for them to do so – thanks to a regulation that governs air ambulance companies that came into effect when the industry was still in its infancy.
Taking a Stock of Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill that is Slated to Govern Medical Flights
Popularly known as the FAA Reauthorization bill, it made headlines a few months ago. The bill was supposed to allow state intervention in the matters of air ambulance billing practices. It would also allow the states to regulate air ambulance companies. The House even passed this bill; however, this was done with a few modifications that disallow the states to regulate and intervene in air ambulance billing practices.
Solution does not Seem at Hand, at Least not in the Near Future
The states can still intervene in the billing practices of companies that offer medical flights but it is limited to investigate any unfair billing only. The insurance providers, however, seem to have reached a tipping point where they are simply refusing to cover the bills beyond a certain point.
The providers of medical flights are, on the other hand, grappling with dwindling consumer demand and increased competition. These factors are piling up the overhead costs. With insurance companies not willing to cover these huge costs, the ultimate burden, at least for now, rests on the common man, lest the government intervenes more strongly.