All posts by airambulance

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.

Learn About Trauma Hawk Medical Flight Services

The services of Trauma Hawk Aero-medical Program is dedicated to providing emergency medical flight services to the residents of Palm Beach County, California. The medical flight services were begun in the year 1990. It has since flown over 14,000 times rescuing about 700 patients every year.

The great thing about Trauma Hawk is that it has a track record of zero fatalities or accidents. This is exemplary considering that there have been 19 fatalities involving air ambulances between 2011 and 2013. On average the medical flight is dispatched anywhere between 1 and 5 times each day. So far, it has been taken care by Palm Beach County Health Care District. The medical flight services, however, are not free of cost and according to one report about $10,000 can be covered through medical insurances.

History of Trauma Hawk Medical Flight Services

In the years preceding 1990, emergency medical flight services were through choppers owned by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department. However, with Palm Beach’s increasing population, it was felt necessary that separate medical flight services be initiated, which gave rise to the Trauma Hawk Program. A Bell 412 chopper too was purchased for the purpose. Today, it uses two 1999 Sikorsky S76-C+ choppers. Dispatching the medical flight services depends on the information provided by the 911 callers and paramedics on the scene.

The Future of Trauma Hawk Medical Flight Services

Recently, questions have been raised whether the medical flight services should stay with the Palm Beach County Health Care District or Palm Beach County Sheriff. The argument by the Sherriff’s department is that the aircrafts could also be used for other services such as fire rescue operations and other emergencies. While the Health Care District argues that the service must stay with them so that residents of the area get timely care.

Palm Beach County Communities that Benefit from Trauma Hawk

The county has 38 municipalities that come under it and trauma hawk medical flight services are available to all of them.

Is Affordable Air Ambulance Service on its Way?

For long, Americans have been worried about the costs of opting for an air ambulance service. We have heard horrid tales of people stuck with air ambulance service bills that run into thousands of dollars and insurance companies unwilling to share the burden. The Southeast Mississippi Air Ambulance District or SEMAAD has now given a glimmer of hope for such people. If the model is adopted widely throughout the country, cost of air ambulance service would no longer be a worry for most American citizens. Let’s learn a bit more about the recent SEMAAD deal.

How is SEMAAD Making Air Ambulance Service Affordable?

Getting to the crux of the deal, the beneficiaries would not have to pay – the amount that is not covered by insurances or other providers – out of pocket. In other words, the medical flight would cost you nothing. The air ambulance service cost benefit currently is being extended to the residents of nine counties that come under SEMAAD. It has struck a contract between the air ambulance service company, Med-Trans Corp and its medical partner Ochsner Hospital. The deal is expected to come through by March next year. The following counties would be covered:

  • Walthall
  • Stone
  • Perry
  • Pearl River
  • Marion
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Greene
  • Forrest
  • Covington

Why is the Air Ambulance Service Move So Important?

The move could act as a guideline for other regions of the United States to follow. In a country where air ambulance service is mainly provided by private players and air ambulance charities are virtually non-existent except for a very few of them, the move is welcome. The contract literally puts life before air ambulance service costs.

SEMAAD also has a contract with Baptist LifeFlight. Both Med-Trans Corp and Baptist LifeFlight air ambulance services would be operating from Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport in Hattiesburg.

Choosing Your Health Insurance from Air Ambulance Perspective

Most of us have a fair idea of what to look for when going for a health insurance. What we don’t usually look at is the kind of air ambulance transport coverage provided. The medical world is increasingly making use of air ambulance services to get the patients appropriate treatment on time to better the chances of survival. You can never predict when you might need air ambulance services. Here, we discuss a few points that can go a long way in ensuring adequate air ambulance coverage.

Speak to Your Insurance Agent about Air Ambulance Coverage

This is one of the most basic steps in ensuring adequate air ambulance coverage. Plainly ask your insurance agent about it. He or she is bound to disclose this information. Also, you would be educated properly on the kind of extra coverage you stand to get, even if it means spending a little extra in the form of insurance premium.

Are You Satisfied with the Air Ambulance Coverage Offered to You?

Never compromise on the extent of air ambulance cover. If your insurance has limits on the extent of coverage and if you are not fully satisfied with it, explore other options. There are several private players in the health insurance sector. You are sure to find the right match when you look close enough. Some insurance companies have not kept with time and have not increased their coverage limits. It is best you stay away from such companies.

Check the Services of Various Air Ambulance Companies

Most air ambulance service providers help you with insurance cover. They hire specialists who will follow up with the insurance companies to get the reimbursements. Although the choice of actually insisting on a particular air ambulance service provider is slim, you never know, you might be able to opt for a particular one and being prepared never harms. Just pick up the phone and call some of the air ambulance companies and learn how they deal with insurance covers, especially when you have a private insurance.

Keep in mind that the letter of medical necessity issued by a doctor is essential but it does not guarantee air ambulance coverage. Ultimately, it is the medical director of the insurance company who decides whether you get air ambulance coverage or not.

Medicare’s Special Coverage Rule for Air Ambulance Services

We’ve already discussed several criteria which need to be satisfied for air ambulance services to be covered by Medicare. We also know that an air ambulance service is not covered when you have ground ambulance available. We’ve also discussed the fact that only medical air transportation to the nearest “appropriate” medical facility is covered by Medicare. Well, this is not entirely true. You stand to gain at least part coverage in the above two situations through the Special Coverage Rule. It helps:

  1. People who feel air ambulance services are absolutely warranted contrary to what medical professionals opine
  2. People who are comfortable admitting the patient to the facility of their choice only

Understanding Air Ambulance Services in the Context of Special Coverage Rule

It is important to note here that the coverage is not extended to places that are not acute care facilities. Places such as physician’s office, nursing facility or the patient’s home would be excluded.

You Prefer Air Ambulance over Ground Ambulance: Now let’s suppose that the medical experts feel that an air ambulance is not warranted and the ground ambulance would suffice. In such a case, Medicare would pay an amount that would have afforded you ground ambulance. The rest of the money would have to be born by you. This amount may be small and would only offer a negligible respite.

You Want the Medical Facility of Your Choice: On the other hand, the medical experts might feel that air ambulance services are warranted. Here, you would be required to transfer the patient to the nearest appropriate facility. However, if you decide to transport the patient utilizing air ambulance services to a facility of your choice, which is at a greater distance than the nearest one, the cost of extra distance to reach it (from the nearest facility) would have to be born by you.

Remember, the air ambulance service provider can ask you for documentation, which clearly indicates that air ambulance services are necessary. Failing to produce the document can mean that you have to pay for the services and then claim it from Medicare.

Does Your Travel Insurance Cover International Air Ambulance Evacuation?

The holiday season is here! This is the time of the year when most people head to exotic locations all over the world. Travel insurance is today part of every individual’s holiday planning. You choose to cover minor risks such as losing your belongings that essentially have no financial consequences. You even buy flight insurance to cover your death incase the airplane crashes within the short duration that you travel in it. But have you thought about international air ambulance evacuation coverage? Missing this vital coverage could result in bankruptcy or at least leave you with a huge financial burden.

Why Purchase International Air Ambulance Evacuation Cover?

The exotic places that you travel to might not have the same standards of medical care that your home country provides. According to one estimate only 5 out of every 100,000 tourists ever need international air ambulance evacuation, but when you consider that over 60 million American citizens travelled abroad last year, the number does not seem so small all of a sudden. The need for international air ambulance evacuation actually seems extremely essential.

International Air Ambulance Evacuation Cover is Not as Expensive as You Imagine

One can buy international air ambulance evacuation cover through travel insurance for about $200 to 300. Seems expensive? Think again. Getting back through a commercial airliner with a nurse to accompany you can alone cost about $25,000. A full fledged international air ambulance evacuation can cost you up to $100,000. Also, keep in mind that Medicare does not cover you outside the United States. When you consider the financial risk, spending additional couple hundred dollars for your own safety and wellbeing does not seem all that expensive. Frequent overseas travelers can avail international air ambulance evacuation cover for roughly the same amount through annual plans. With a little thought and adequate cover, you can enjoy this holiday season without any worries at the back of your mind.

NAIC Issues an Air Ambulance Consumer Alert

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has recently issued an alert with regards to air ambulance insurance coverage. The alert goes on to point out that more and more people are getting buried under the air ambulance cost burden when insurance providers fail to cover the costs. It estimates that an average air ambulance flight is about 52 miles and the costs can vary between 12 to 15 thousand dollars and in some cases can exceed 100,000 dollars.

Why is Air Ambulance Transport so Expensive?

People often wonder why air ambulance transport is so expensive. One of the reasons is, unlike countries such as UK where air ambulances are usually run by charities, in the US, these are mostly run commercial operators. The initial cost of an air ambulance itself is a whopping 6 million dollars on average. The companies obviously want to cover the cost quicker. When you add the cost of medical supplies, aircraft maintenance, and air ambulance specialists, the amount goes even higher.

Getting to Know Your Air Ambulance Transport Coverage is Vital

For one, international air ambulance services are not covered by Medicare. It is almost impossible to negotiate the rates when medical experts suggest that air ambulance services are a must for patient survival. However, it is wise to know some things beforehand. Learn about the air ambulance service providers that your insurance covers. Know that there is a cost attached when a family member or members accompany the patient. Also some policies only cover certain types of aircrafts.

Simple Steps to Ensure Adequate Air Ambulance Transport Coverage

The best time to think about air ambulance transport coverage is now, when you have no medical emergency. Read your health insurance policy closely and find out about the coverage that it provides. If your insurance company has provisions for extra coverage, pay an additional amount to get such facilities. If your insurance company fails to offer you adequate air ambulance transport coverage, it is wise to look for another company that does. In the end, you don’t want to get into a financial obligation that you cannot carry.