Imagine being able to utilize air ambulance services, not just to the “nearest appropriate medical facility” but to a facility near your own home. Wouldn’t that be something that would make you really comfortable? Most insurance companies do not offer you such privileges but there is hope, especially when community members are able to come together to increase their bargaining capacity. When a community sits across the table to do business with air ambulance coverage providers, the sheer number of community members increases the bargaining capacity. For the service providers this translates into huge business and for you cheaper and more efficient air ambulance coverage.
Looking at Air Ambulance Industry Statistics
We have already mentioned earlier that more than 550,000 patients make use of air ambulance services each year in the United States. These patients have to shell out anywhere between $12,000 and $25,000 for their air ambulance transport (considering the national average of 52 miles per flight). If the requirement for air ambulance is to fly overseas the amount can go well into six figures.
We have already seen that most insurance companies shy away from covering the charges entirely. Also, most of them simply do not cover overseas air ambulance travel.
Air Ambulance Membership Programs and Community Associations
There are several air ambulance membership programs available throughout the United States today. These programs allow medical care seekers to fly via air ambulance services during emergencies to the hospital of their choice. The cost of such membership is not usually high. Also, if a community association ties up with such a service provider, the cost of membership goes down even further. In the wake of rising air ambulance costs throughout the country, such an arrangement is the best option to avoid getting tangled in high air ambulance costs.
It must also be noted that choosing or refusing air ambulance services is not in the hands of the patients during emergencies. It is a call taken by the medical professionals on the scene.
Air ambulance transport can be a necessity when travelling abroad for medical treatment. Air ambulance transport can be easily arranged owing to the availability of such services throughout the globe today. What worries most people are other aspects such as:
- Arranging for postoperative care
- Arranging the paperwork to enter the country
- Arranging medical care
- Other aspects such as language and cultural change
Some vital decisions such as a fellow traveler, which is usually a family member, must be decided.
Traveling to the US through Air Ambulance Transport or Otherwise
There is no doubt that air ambulance transport to United States could be quite expensive. However, those who are willing to shell out the money also get the best possible care when the medical situation is complicated. It is well known that the US medical system is quite advanced and well organized, which is not the case in many countries around the world. It must be noted that there are other options than opting solely for an air ambulance transport.
For instance, if the patient is able to walk and take care of certain basic functions, an air medical escort may be enough. Even if the patient is not able to mobilize himself, a commercial airline stretcher may be enough, provided the patient does not need life support.
Air Medical Transport Needs some Planning
Most of the large hospitals in the United States are well equipped to receive foreign patients. Hospitals have help at hand, designed specifically for such patients. However, choosing an air medical transport provider can be quite tough. Careful consideration must be given to both costs, the make of the aircraft, and the quality of services offered. Most of the service providers have online presence so the preliminary research must be conducted online. Also, you must look at their testimonials. Once you zero down on a few, feel free to give them a call and talk to one of their representatives.
You may want to hire an air medical transport provider that takes care of everything from transit formalities to booking the hospital for you. This allows you to feel confident of the travel and relieves you of any travel anxiety that might be bothering you.
Air ambulance services are the only option most of the time when a patient suffers a severe heart attack, stroke or any other medical eventuality. The sad part is that, during such times, most patients are neither in a position to deny air ambulance services nor choose one on their own. For this reason, the Nebraska Department of Insurance has come up with certain guidelines to keep the patients away from financial shocks.
How Much Does Air Ambulance Typically Cost?
The numbers can run anywhere from $12,000 to $25,000 per flight and these numbers only cover domestic flights. If the requirement of air ambulance is to fly overseas, the price can go well over $100,000. The Association of Air Medical Services says that over 550,000 patients make use of air medical evacuation each year. A sizeable part of this population later faces problem when it comes to payment of the bills as insurance companies refuse to cover the entire charge.
Understanding Air Ambulance Insurance
Insurance companies will only pay the bills when they deem the use of air ambulance absolutely necessary for the patient’s survival. There are times when insurance companies refuse to foot the bill or part of it.
When it comes to Medicare, it only pays if it determines that the necessity for air ambulance is immediate and that ground ambulance cannot do the job. Also, it only covers the cost to the nearest appropriate medical facility.
What is the Solution?
The first and foremost thing to do is read all the details of your insurance cover thoroughly. In case you need additional cover, purchase it beforehand. Know all the terms and conditions. Here are some of the questions that should bother you:
- Will the insurance cover equipments like oxygen and life support onboard the air ambulance?
- Will the cost of transportation to and from the air ambulance be covered?
- Will the cost of family member accompanying the patient be covered?
- Is there a limit to the distance covered?
- What types of emergencies are covered?
It is important to note here that the only way to keep yourself away from a financial doom is to think about air ambulance when you’re healthy.
When a person is stuck in a challenging environment, nothing else is as effective as air ambulance flights that make use of hoists. Their presence not only ensures quick rescue but also saves a lot of time and effort when compared to a ground rescue, although they too have not been without hoist fatalities. However, that is a risk that the brave rescuers sometimes take. Here are some of the advantages, limitations, and risks associated with air ambulance flights that make use of hoists.
What Limits the Air Ambulance Flights?
- If the winds are moving at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour, if the visibility is poor or the weather is simply harsh, air ambulance flights may not undertake a rescue mission.
- There is a weight limit that comes with hoist operations and if the combined weight of the patient as well as the equipment exceeds 450 pounds, the mission might be abandoned.
- Hoist operations are never undertaken during night hours
- Conducting a hoist operation over water is tough and can be quite limiting.
The Factors taken into Consideration by Air Ambulance Flights
- The nearest location where the aircraft can be fueled
- Availability of landing area
- The location of the nearest command post
- All information related to the patient such as the weight, age, people along with the patient, etc
- Availability of a backup plan in case the mission cannot be carried out
The Different Types of Hoists Used by Air Ambulance Flights
- Rescuer Backpack: This contains hoist equipment that’s best suited for rescue along with some emergency medical equipment in anticipation of the injury.
- Bauman Bag: This equipment is used in winters when the injured patient needs to be kept warm. The bag is a splinter that fits automatically around the patient keeping him or her warm.
- Rescue Net: Here, the patient is placed prone in a rescue net which is then hooked to the hoist.
- Seat Harness: This is used primarily to rescue uninjured patients or to rescue those who have very minor injuries that do not pose any threat to life. Here, the harness is simply placed around the patient and hooked up to be hoisted away.
Carrying out hoist rescue missions requires special approval by FAA which is granted only after a rigorous certification process.