From e-commerce and ride-hailing services to air ambulances, the quest is on to get flying cars going. Although we do not see many of them on the road (or in the skies), it does not mean that such cars are not in the making. There are several manufacturers out there who have been pursuing this for quite some time. If flying cars becomes a reality, they could prove quite useful as air ambulances. Let’s take a look at the various options out there.
Klein Vision AirCar – An Option for Air Ambulances
The car can double up as a flying vehicle in just about three minutes and needs a takeoff stretch of about 300 meters. It can reach a max speed of 190 kilometers per hour. This vehicle is powered by a 1.6-liter 140-horsepower engine.
AeroMobil 4.0 is Also an Option
This car is counted among the viable options today. It can cover a good 740 kilometers on air and 520 kilometers on road. It is powered by a 300-horsepower engine and manages speeds up to 260 kilometers an hour.
Terrafugia Transition – An Ecofriendly Option for Air Ambulances
Terrafugia Transition sports an electric hybrid engine. The car boasts a range of 644 kilometers and can reach up to 160 kilometers per hour in the air. What sets it apart is its ability to host 4 passengers. This means that it would have ample space for turning it into an air ambulance for short distances.
PAL-V Liberty – Another Choice
This vehicle is quite different in its approach. Rather than turning a car into a helicopter, this vehicle transforms itself from being a helicopter to a car. It has a 100-horsepower twin petrol engine. It has the capacity to cruise at 180 kilometers per hour. It offers a superb range on the road of 1315 kilometers on-road and 500 kilometers when flying.
With so many options out there, the day might not be far when flying cars are increasingly transformed into short-range air ambulances.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom has appealed to drone enthusiasts across the country to be mindful of air ambulances as they fly drones. It must be noted that the island nation has over 400 thousand registered drones and probably a few unregistered ones. Owing to the craze surrounding drones these days, the recent festive season has seen an uptick in drone sales. The Civil Aviation Authority is rightly concerned for air ambulances in this scenario. The reason for this is straightforward. Air ambulances often fly at an altitude that is less than 120 meters – the permissible altitude for drone enthusiasts.
CAA Guide for Safety of Air Ambulances
- Keeping drones within the range of sight: It is easier to control the drone if one can see where exactly it is as one flies it. This will help the flyers steer clear of any air ambulances that they may encounter.
- Avoiding airfields and airports completely: Unless there is a compelling reason, flying drones near spaces where air ambulances land or take-off should be a strict no for obvious reasons. The chances of collision are simply too great.
- Adhering to the best practices of flying drones: One can know more about this by visiting the Civil Aviation Authority’s website and reading The Drone and Model Aircraft Code.
- Qualifying for flying drones: This is perhaps the most important one. It is essential that one registers with the CAA and clears the Flyer ID test.
Adherence is a Social Responsibility
According to a statistic by the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom, the air ambulances took to the skies over a thousand times in just the last month of 2021 with over 180 crew members each day. Over 80 people’s lives were saved through various operations. It is, therefore, the responsibility of common citizens to follow certain drone-flying best practices to keep air ambulances safe.
The year 2021 is behind us, and as we enter the brand-new year, we look at it with a lot of hope. The year gone by was quite eventful for the air ambulance industry, to say the least. The pandemic continued into the second year, and by the looks of it, is going to bother the world in the years to come. However, there was a silver lining. The latest variant, Omicron, although considered highly transmissible is less lethal, especially when compared to the previous variant, Delta.
Then, there was the issue of balance billing, which brought a lot of negative public perceptions towards the air ambulance industry. It had created a constant tussle between the health insurance industry and the air ambulance industry. The result was the No Surprises Bill – effective January 2022.
Customer Expectations in 2022 from the Air Ambulance Industry
One major expectation will be to utilize air ambulance services without the worry of having to bear the balance payments. Payment will now be a matter that needs to be sorted out between insurance providers and the air ambulance industry.
Rural America can possibly breathe free of the worries about the Coronavirus given the fact that air ambulance service will now be much more reachable due to the No Surprises Bill. Of course, it is yet to be seen how much of the air ambulance industry will be willing to support rural areas. The reason: with the insurance companies prefixing costs, the medical flight providers might witness dwindling margins and diminishing motive to serve far-off regions.
Differences Need to be Ironed Out in 2022
Overall, it can be said that the air ambulance industry is moving in the right direction from the customers’ point of view. If all outstanding issues are sorted out, it will be highly beneficial to all parties involved. Perhaps, the government needs to play a more active role as an arbitrator.
Come New Year and people will no longer need to fear balance billing when it comes to air ambulances. However, the general public is not entirely educated enough about the advantages that the No Surprises Bill brings to the table. Once it comes to effect on January 1, 2022, people will no longer be liable for any bills from air ambulances. It is designed to protect customers from exorbitant charges that are levied on them for exercising their right to live and get adequate healthcare. However, with the new bill coming into effect, there is bound to be some confusion and the potential for people to fall prey to unfair financial practices.
Support for Rights Knowledge
Customers are urged to know their rights by educating themselves thoroughly. Of course, there are going to be issued as to where one can find the right sources for doing so. One such guide has been presented by US PIRGS. The Department of Health and Human Services (popularly known as HHS) will have a dedicated helpline for consumers in this regard. Anyone can call this line to know more about the bill and also raise any complaints that they may have about air ambulances or medical practices in general from physician to hospital services. The scope must be limited to billing practices while doing so.
There is Opposition to the New Bill
Certain air ambulances, doctors’ associations, and hospital conglomerates are opposing the new bill. The primary reason that they are doing so is a strong belief that the new rules favor insurance companies. Their grouse is that insurance companies will arbitrarily be able to decide the payout for the medical services rendered. They also clarify that their intent is not to take away the advantage that the patients get but to create a fair playing ground with the insurance industry.
The No Surprises Bill is slated to come into effect soon. If all goes well, the bill will come into effect from the first month of next year. In this regard, the US air ambulance industry is preparing itself. This is especially so for organizations that are funded by private equity with the sole motive of profit. Survivability could be an issue for most small players in the industry. As with any other industry, the US air ambulance industry too may soon look at mergers to cut costs and increase efficiency. The primary reason behind this is an expectation that the payouts for the services are going to get thinner.
US Air Ambulance Acquisitions Cannot Be Discounted
For the big players with deep pockets, it is an opportunity to acquire the smaller ones to increase their reach. In this uncertain time for the US air ambulance industry, it would not be surprising that some of the smaller players start fearing bankruptcy. This is an opportunity for the biggies as they will surely get an upper hand in negotiations. The industry might soon veer towards oligopoly. In other words, it would not be surprising to see just a few organizations controlling the US air ambulance industry.
Rural Access to Air Ambulance Services
The No Surprises Bill has trained all its guns towards the pricing but not at the accessibility problems that may possibly result from fewer players in the market. It is noteworthy that the rural parts of America need air ambulances most but from a business point of view, they are the least profit-making. The result could be a lack of motivation for the US air ambulance industry to look at these areas. Of course, the government – through policy changes – can incentivize air ambulance services to look at these regions.
As the year 2021 draws to a close, the No Surprise Bill will make its way. Soon, it will be illegal to charge patients for medical flight services availed during emergencies. However, there are several groups that are opposing this change vehemently. What does it actually mean to the common man? Will there be a compromise in care due to the bill? These are some of the questions that are bothering several people across the United States. In this context, it is not just some players involved in medical flight services who are opposing this bill, there are several medical practitioners too who have joined the chorus.
Not Just Medical Flight Services
It is not only the medical flight services that will be included in the No Surprise Bill but also medical care in general. Medical scans, lab tests, consultations, treatment, etc., too will come under this bill. The common man would be completely insulated from being responsible for bearing such medical expenses. Instead, it will be a matter that has to be sorted between the service providers and the insurance companies. Experts say that, on its part, the insurance company has already come up with standard payments for certain services. This move has been a thorn that has bothered medical professionals.
Private-Equity-Based Care Will Bear the Brunt of It
There are several for-profit organizations out there that literally compel people to opt for services that come under particular insurance networks, failing this, the patient would be liable to make the balance payments that the insurance does not cover. This is set to change with the bill which will come into effect from January 2022. The insurance payments too are slated to come down, which means that the United States will see some cooling off when it comes to healthcare costs in general. Currently, US healthcare costs are among the highest in the world.
Air ambulance services play a vital role in transporting organs for transplants around the world. For countries like the United States and the United Kingdom where air ambulance services are well-evolved, the problem of transport hardly is an issue. However, the same cannot be said about other countries like Brazil and India where the concept of medical flights is still new. Many times, even when a donor consents, logistics prove to be a hurdle to get the organs to the recipients on time. What is lacking is a robust infrastructure to make the transport possible and in time.
Air Ambulance Services Can Solve the Logistical Problem
For countries like India, there is no lack of appropriate medical facilities and expertise to conduct organ transplants. In order to make air ambulance services readily available, different logistical approaches are now being considered. One among them is keeping medical flights on standby specifically for organ transplants. The idea is to keep air ambulance services handy to address this issue. All the metropolitan cities in the country have good air connectivity. The government and private players can come together to overcome the logistical issue and make organ transportation a seamless exercise.
The Role of the Government
Almost all airports are owned by the government in most countries. The government can therefore waive off charges that are involved in upkeep and parking of air ambulances. This leaves only the costs associated with fuel and flying, which can be covered through private payers or charitable endeavors. Of course, corporate organizations too can play a vital role in bringing funds for this cause. Ultimately, the transplant costs can be covered by federal or private health insurance. If a strong ecosystem like this can be developed, it will surely save the lives of thousands. It is something that demands serious consideration today.
The No Surprises Act has got everyone talking these days. From the word go, there has been a feeling in the air ambulance industry that the regulation is going to go against it. Now, industry experts believe that the fear is turning into a reality.
The intent of the No Surprises Act is excellent. In that, it plans to exclude the patient from the picture when a payment dispute arises. In other words, when an insurance company refuses to cover the air ambulance cost in full, the burden of balance payments does not fall on the patient. It is for the insurance company and the air ambulance service provider to settle the financial differences between themselves.
The Air Ambulance Association Cites Problem with IDR
IDR stands for independent dispute resolution. It has been drafted such that insurance providers and healthcare providers (including air ambulance service providers) can hold discussions between themselves and come to a conclusion on payments. If not, they are free to approach an independent entity as defined by the No Surprises Act. However, one of the clauses set by Congress says that no single statutory factor must veer in any direction during IDR. However, the air ambulance association felt that the federal government was weighing heavily on a single factor and that is qualified payment amount or QPA.
The air ambulance association is of the opinion that the impetus solely on QPA will have disastrous consequences for the industry and also the people that it caters to. If the insurance providers are the sole authority on the payments that are to be made for medical flight services, it may prove detrimental to the industry. Ultimately, it will act as a disincentive to the air ambulance business. Many air ambulance service providers may be forced to shut their businesses.
From time to time, we bring our readers a curated list of interesting stories from the air ambulance industry. This week we managed to bring you a few happenings that were quite interesting. Here is a look.
Air Ambulance Services with Unvaccinated Patients Onboard May Not be Allowed to Enter the United States
The Bermuda Hospital board has warned people that they may be denied entry into the United States through air ambulance service even during emergencies if they are not fully vaccinated. Much of the world is still finds it hard to get access to vaccines. However, what has been even more worrying is the reluctance of people to get vaccinated. Countries like Bermuda have relied on countries like the United Kingdom and the United States for advanced treatment. Without being fully vaccinated, it might be an uphill task in the near future.
UK Man Sets on a Marathon to Raise Funds for Air Ambulance
Scott Owen set out on a marathon with a target of raising about 600 British Pounds recently. It was his way of showing his gratitude to the local air ambulance service that had saved his father’s life a few years ago. His 26-mile marathon surpassed his fund-raising expectations. He eventually ended up raising over 1200 British Pounds. Much of the air ambulance services in the United Kingdom rely on the local communities for funds.
CAMTS Awards Accreditations to an Air Ambulance Company
Accreditations are an important part of the air ambulance industry. They help air ambulance organizations to gain the trust of the general public and to maintain high standards of quality. The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) recently awarded initial accreditation to LifeGuard Air Ambulance of Cedar Rapids. The service is based out of Iowa. Along with this, it awarded re-accreditations to several other air ambulance organizations.
Let’s face it – going on vacation amid the global pandemic is not the same as it used to be. Access to medical flights is an absolute necessity. While some parts of the world have completely shut themselves down to the outside public, others have taken a cautious approach. Added to this is the fact that more variants are constantly popping up in several parts of the world. Tests to ensure infection-free passengers have become a norm today. All these things have made it tough for emergency medical flights to function without any hurdles.
Medical Flights and Insurance
The importance of travel insurance is very high in the current scenario. For instance, you go on a vacation to Bali. You arrive in the country without any symptoms, enjoy yourself, and are about to get back to your home country. The travel, of course, will require you to produce a COVID-negative medical report. What if you find out that you are positive, and over the ensuing days, find yourself battling against the symptoms of COVID infection? Would you not want to be close to your family when an instance like this occurs? It becomes virtually impossible to travel to your country given the huge costs involved in hiring medical flights across borders. This is when insurance comes into the picture.
Looking Beyond Evacuations
The symptoms that you experience may not warrant medical flights but what about staying in the country that you are visiting. If you are on a budget, things can get a little tricky and travel insurance can help. You might need to quarantine yourself in a designated facility. Of course, if the symptoms are severe, you might even need an air ambulance to get to the nearest treatment facility, which can sometimes mean taking adequate permissions and flying back to your country. All this becomes an uphill task when you do not have the right travel insurance and access to medical flights.