US Air Ambulance industry is gaining importance by the day as rural hospitals are shutting down at an alarming pace. By the end of 2013, there were just 2,400 rural hospitals in the United States of America. Unfortunately, of these, several have closed down in the past five years. The dependency on US air ambulance industry is increasing drastically. However, the federal payment system’s reimbursement rates have remained stagnant for an unreasonably long time. The Association of Air Medical Services has now sought to rectify this problem to serve people better.
Why the US Air Ambulance Industry is Important
Over 120 million people in the United States of America do not have reasonably quick access to Level 1 and Level 2 trauma centers. A study has highlighted that over 90% of the flights taken up by the US air ambulance industry pertain to strokes, cardiac complications, and trauma – all of which demand urgent medical care, lest the risk to life. Suffice to say, in this context, that medical flights are lifesavers for a huge number of people in the country.
The Need for Reimbursement Revision
The Federal reimbursement rates have not been revised since 2002 and that’s almost 2 decades. The rates that were set at that point in time were based on the cost data from the year 1996. Obviously, the US air ambulance industry is feeling the pain now as the reimbursement rates have not caught up with time. This pain is compounded by the fact that about 40 percent of the patients who avail medical flight services are covered by Medicare.
Here are a few startling cost statistics: The median cost that the US air ambulance industry sees today is slightly over USD 10,000 per flight while the reimbursement rate of Medicaid is slightly over USD 3000 and that of Medicare is close to USD 6000 per flight.