Closing two Air Methods bases has caused concern among regional emergency health care providers. Air Methods is a medical helicopter service. They have provided services for over 30 years. The company services across a 150-mile radius in the San Antonio area where the bases are being closed down. Rescue operations in the Texas Hill Country and border communities have been grounded by one of two operational bases in recent days due to an aircraft overhaul. A new law is to blame for the closure of bases across the country.
The Consequence of Not Having Air Ambulance Service
The No Surprises Act does not currently include ground ambulance companies, but soon they could be, which is worrisome for these services. When patients need immediate attention, air ambulance services are invaluable in rural areas where trauma centers aren’t readily available. Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) oversees the trauma care system and was shocked by Central Life’s decision to close two of its bases in Texas. The only alternative that now remains is looking for other service providers, although it is going to be an uphill task. Mainly so because air ambulance companies in the United States are private-equity-owned and the dwindling financial incentive due to the No Surprises Act means that most players will now only turn towards lucrative urban markets.
Why are Urban Air Ambulance Markets Lucrative?
Simply put, urban areas in the United States are more densely populated. Consequently, the demand for air ambulances is higher. This translates into less downtime for air ambulance companies. Not only does it translate into higher income and greater revenue, but ancillary costs such as maintenance, training, and other overheads can also be spread across several trips, making each trip cheaper. This means the air ambulance companies will still be able to sustain if the insurance payouts are smaller.