Patients Across U.S. Saddled with Massive Bills After Air Ambulance Rides


December 02, 2018

UNITED STATES – An online article on newschannel5.com discusses the air ambulance industry and its lack of federal regulation. For years, patients have been saddled with massive bills after receiving helicopter rides for medical treatment.*

Between 2010 and 2014, according to a federal investigation conducted in 2017, average prices for air ambulance flights doubled. In some states, the cost went up by much more — almost 230 percent in New Mexico from 2006 to 2015. People usually think about these flights as emergency, life-saving measures, but many are initiated for routine patient transport between hospitals. Insurance might cover a portion of the bill if the air ambulance company is inside a patient’s network, but even so, the majority of patients are left with extreme costs after their flights. 

North Dakota resident Sonna Anderson was injured in a horseback riding accident in September 2017 and was airlifted to a hospital in Bismarck from the Badlands. Both Anderson and her husband asked if she could be transported via ambulance, instead, because an ambulance had arrived and loaded Anderson before the helicopter landed. They were told the flight was necessary, and they felt like they had no choice. 

The flight took longer than the ground transport would have – 45 minutes to a hospital that was not the closest in proximity to the accident – and when the bill arrived, the Andersons found Valley Med Flight charged $54,727.26 for the ride. Insurance covered only $13,697.73, and the air ambulance company billed Anderson for the balance: $41,029.53. 

This is not uncommon. Across the country, air ambulance flights range from $34,000 to more than $500,000. The companies are able to charge these prices without state interference because they fall under the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act. The Act prevents states from regulating airfare and routes, and in the eyes of the law, air ambulances are part of the aviation industry before they are part of the health care industry. State attempts to cap prices or prohibit balance billing to patients, therefore, have all died under the weight of the Airline Deregulation Act. 

To read more about this issue, visit the article linked above, or click here.

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Sources:

https://www.newschannel5.com/news/national/sky-high-prices-for-air-ambulances-hurt-those-they-are-helping

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Category: Accident News

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