What if Medicare Doesn’t Cover Your Air Ambulance Cost

If you felt the medical situation warranted the air ambulance trip, yet Medicare refused to cover the charges, you don’t necessarily have to be disheartened. You can still check a few things and appeal Medicare to cover the air ambulance expenses.

Check Your Paperwork and Medicare Summary Notice (MSN)

Medicare gives you the reason for not covering air ambulance trip and there can be two primary reasons for it:

  1. The air ambulance company failed to appropriately document your need for air ambulance transport: In a situation like this, contact the doctor or social worker who was involved in mandating the air ambulance transport. Send this information to the organization that handles your medical bills on behalf of Medicare.
  2. The air ambulance company failed to file appropriate paperwork: You can always ask your air ambulance company to re-file your claim. If this does not yield results, you can then proceed to file an appeal.

If Medicare Still Refuses to Pay, File an Appeal

People who have Medicare have certain rights and one such right is filing an appeal against non-coverage of your air ambulance bills. Here’s a stepwise approach:

Look at MSN and find reason for not covering the air ambulance trip: Apart from the reason, the MSN will also let you know the time by which you need to file the appeal.

  1. Follow the instructions on MSN to file the appeal against non-coverage of air ambulance trip: It will also contain the address to which you need to send the appeal. You must accompany it with a letter stating why your air ambulance trip must be covered.
  2. Get in touch with the doctor who suggested air ambulance services: Attach this information to the MSN before sending it to the designated address.
  3. Keep a copy for yourself: You might need the copy of your appeal as a proof, so make a copy and keep it with you.

You can also get in touch with Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov/appeals.

Is Air Ambulance Transport the Right Option? Answering these Questions Can Help

Deciding whether a patient needs air ambulance transport can be a tough decision, even for a doctor sometimes. In this realm, asking certain questions before deciding on air ambulance transport can help. Below are a few of them.

Does the condition warrant that patient spends least possible time out of hospital?

If the answer is yes, then the patient might be best suited for air ambulance transport as it is quicker than ground transport.

Is a time-sensitive facility unavailable in the current treating facility?

Certain lifesaving facilities or treatments might not be available in the hospital that is treating the patient at the current time. Air ambulance transport might become essential to carry the patient to the nearest medical center that has this facility.

Is the area only accessible through air ambulance transport?

Certain remote areas that have bad or no roads can only reached through air ambulance transport. Air ambulance choppers obviously are preferred during such cases.

Is the weather suitable for air ambulance transport?

The new FAA guidelines for air ambulance transport and the general safety concern for the crew prevents use of air ambulances when the weather conditions are unfavorable.

Is the weight of the patient, equipment and crew within permissible limit of air ambulance transport?

The permissibility of weight might also depend on the kind of aircraft that is available during the emergency. However, weight is a concern that must be addressed.

Is there an airport or helipad to land the air ambulance near the receiving facility?

If the landing facilities are not available, air ambulance transport might not at all be an option. Landing at a considerable distance and carrying the patient to the receiving facility through ground ambulance might defeat the purpose of using air ambulance transport.

Does the ground transport lack critical care support?

Air ambulances usually are extremely well equipped. If the ground ambulance lacks such support, then air ambulance transport might be the only option.

Will use of ground ambulance leave local area with inadequate emergency coverage?

If the answer is yes, then air medical transport might have to be opted so that the medical facility is prepared to meet other potential emergencies locally.

Answering these questions can help make split second decisions, which can mean the difference between life and death during emergencies.

Guide to Medical Flight Cost Containment

Speak of a medical flight and the fist thing that occupies your mind is the cost involved. With the absence of adequate insurance coverage, especially when abroad, one is compelled to think out of the box to come up with financially viable solutions that do not compromise on medical flight safety. Instead of looking at government aid or charity, medical flight companies must introspect and come up with ways that can keep tabs on the cost. Here we discuss a few of those.

A Medical Flight Must Avoid “Empty Leg”

There is always a distance that a medical flight must cover in order to reach the patient in distress. This distance where the medical flight does not actually carry a patient is called “empty leg.” What if another needy patient is carried the distance? The cost can thus be shared between two patients.

Quote One-Way Charge for the Medical Flight

Once the patient is flown to the destination, the flight is often compelled to return empty. With a good network in place, the medical flight can look for patients who need to use their services on the way back. The cost can thus be shared between two people essentially halving the cost.

A Medical Flight Company Can Share Resources

Rather than competing with each other, medical flight companies must look at sharing their resources and thus jointly bear the cost. The result would be cheaper overheads and resultant cheaper costs to the patients. Another way would be to employ contractors. For example, freelance pilots and nursing services can be hired on an as-needed basis.

Accommodate More than One Patient per Medical Flight

Medical flights that can accommodate more than one patient at a time can be very helpful. While the cost of a larger aircraft could be a bit high, aircraft maintenance, staff, fuel charges, etc., would certainly be less and could turn out to be a very viable long-term plan. The patients gain by paying less as the cost of travel can be shared.

There is no denying the fact that all these solutions cannot be implemented at times when there is a medical emergency. However, with good coordination between various medical flight service providers, there is a hope that costs can be contained to a large extent.

Understanding Why Air Ambulance Services are Expensive

We have heard many a stories where families have been drained of their finances owing to the cost of air ambulance services that go uncovered by insurance. If you are wondering why this life-saving mode of transport is getting more expensive by the day, you must look into all the factors that go into the pricing of air ambulance services.

Air Ambulance Services are Expensive due to Several Factors

Even though the fuel prices have gone down, jet fuel prices have not fallen proportionately; so the cost of fuel to run air ambulance services is one major factor.

Insurance cost of air ambulance vehicles have also gone up due to the many air ambulance accidents that we have witnessed recently.

Insurance providers and healthcare watchdogs expect air ambulance services to maintain the highest standards, and maintaining such standards comes at a cost.

The salaries of critical care nurses and doctors too are rising rapidly, which is adding to the cost of air ambulance services.

Think of in-flight training exercises that the crew has to go through. Someone has to pay for these exercises and the cost is ultimately borne by the beneficiaries of the services.

The periodic maintenance and upkeep of air ambulances is mandatory in most instances and comes at a very high cost.

There are also licensing and regulation costs which recur periodically.

Extra Costs of Overseas Air Ambulance Services

When a patient needs medical repatriation, the costs go up to dizzying heights. It is not just the fuel that adds to the cost of air ambulance services in such cases.

There may be several permits that need to be obtained when a patient has to be flown overseas which can cost a considerable amount.

Certain parts of the world demand that precautions be taken to avoid contaminations and infections – the cost of which can be significant.

Special precautions need to be taken and more wages need to be paid when a patient has to be transported from a war-torn or unstable region.

Governments across the world and the US need to take a closer look at the rising cost of air ambulance services and come up with a lasting solution for cost containment, lest the people will continue to suffer financially.