Air Methods, which is a US air ambulance company that was charging on an average of $17,000 five years ago, today charges in excess of a whopping $40,000 according to a statistic by Research 360. There are several factors that have contributed to this rise in price and the effect has been devastating.
Marc Dotson a resident of Butlerville, Ohio, was in for some rude shock in 2013 when a US air ambulance operator that had transported his wife presented him with a bill of over $22,000. The insurance would not cover the amount and the air ambulance company placed his house on lien to recover the money. Ultimately, he had to file for bankruptcy. Dotson is one among many American citizens who get caught up in such payment hassles.
Why are US Air Ambulance Companies Hiking Charges?
Legislation passed in the 1970s deregulated US air ambulance companies and this has allowed them to charge higher amounts without any government intervention. Also, many commercial air ambulance operators have added to their fleets of choppers which cost a minimum of $4 million. The rising competition has also meant that there are now more number of helicopters and lesser number of patients. This has forced the US air ambulance companies to charge higher to recover costs.
US Air Ambulance Companies Find it Tough to Deal with Insurance Providers
Private insurance providers have not always covered the entire amount pertaining to air ambulance travel. Even Medicare and Medicaid have strict norms when it comes to covering the costs. The recent attempts to contain the healthcare costs have only made the situation worse for the common man.
Over 400,000 people are transported via US air ambulance choppers each year. There is a need for legislations like The Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015. There has been a strong call by Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) for legislations that allow for better reimbursements. AAMS is a trade group of US air ambulance operators.