Medical Flights: COVID-19 Waves and the Fatigue of Dealing with Them

It is almost as if the world has lost count of how many COVID-19 waves have hit it so far. In the United States, while some of the states have it well under control now, others do not. Some even contend that they are facing a fourth wave of the pandemic. One thing is for sure, medical flights have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. With the number of positive cases running into several thousand, it is obvious that a portion of these COVID-positive patients is in a serious health condition. Then there are those who are in areas that do not have enough hospital beds or adequate facilities to treat their conditions. Medical flights are the only recourse in these situations.

Medical Flights are Witnessing an Unprecedented Demand

The rural United States is highly dependent on medical flights when it comes to availing adequate treatment. With the pandemic penetrating several rural areas in the country, the demand surge has been very steep. The flight staff is under immense pressure to meet this demand. In this context, it must be noted that the staff of these medical flights must wear special personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe. This impedes their mobility and can be quite tough. The body heat that the gear retains can make the day’s work quite exhausting.

Most Companies are Offering Extra Support to their Staff

Employees of medical flights are not just facing physical exertion but also the mental stress that comes along with it. Prolonged work hours in tough conditions coupled with the fear of contracting the infection and putting their own families at risk is one of them. On their part, the organizations that run medical flights are keeping a close watch and offering support to their staff in these difficult times.

A Marketplace for Medical Flights

What makes the United States great is the choices that it brings to its consumers. Enter a supermarket and you find aisles that are dedicated to breakfast cereals alone and people love this fact. It also makes the prices competitive where the end consumers benefit from cheaper goods. However, when it comes to medical flights the same cannot be said. It is not that there aren’t enough medical flights in the country. In fact, the United States has the highest number of air ambulance companies when compared to any other country in the whole world. Then, why are people not able to freely choose.

Medical Flights Need a Marketplace

If you are wondering what a marketplace is, here is the answer. It is a simple online platform that lists various medical flights and gives you all the details pertaining to them. The details can be the price, the locations covered, the services offered, the logistical capability, and any other value addition that the company brings to the table. This makes it easy for people to compare the options before them and make an informed decision. The tool will also compel the medical flights to keep their prices competitive and give out the best quotes to the consumers.

What Else Can a Marketplace Do?

A marketplace can go a step further from being merely a comparison engine. It can become a place where people can discuss their experience with an air ambulance service. Moreover, it can become a mechanism through which bookings and payments are made. Of course, there is going to be a degree of regulation surrounding this. However, if the federal and state governments become involved in the marketplace to standardize it, the benefits can be numerous. It becomes a win-win situation for all the parties involved. For a model like this to be a success, the service providers must be mandated by the government to register on the marketplace, so that it becomes a comprehensive spot to compare and book medical flights.

New Air Ambulance Bill Comes Closer to Being a Reality

Several federal agencies in the United States of America are now coming together to enforce the No Surprises Act. Thus far, the air ambulance industry has been able to charge the patients arbitrarily and the state governments have not been able to do anything about it. Now, this is all set to change with the federal authority weighing down on this issue. The main purpose of the act is to avoid any surprise billing or balance billing where the recipient of the service is liable to pay a part of the amount. The bill will come into effect next year and the hope is that people will no longer have to avoid healthcare due to the fear of high prices.

How will The Bill Affect Air Ambulance Cost?

People who come under Medicaid and Medicare are not liable to pay any out of pocket expenses. This is because the air ambulance companies are not allowed to send requests for payments to them. However, a large portion of the United States also relies on private health insurance. This is where the problem lies. With private insurances, the amount is only covered when a person uses in-network air ambulance services. Any service that is out of the network attracts a cost that is to be borne by the consumer.

The No Surprises Act Promises to Change Things

With the new No Surprises Act that is slated to come into effect in the year 2022, air ambulance companies will not be able to send requests for part or full payments to the consumers. Instead, they will have to make do with what the insurance companies disburse. If there is a dispute regarding the monetary compensation for the service, it will have to be arbitrated among the insurance providers and the air ambulance companies. The move will be a big relief for people seeking emergency air ambulance services.