Category Archives: Financial

A commercial airline stretcher

Guide: Medical Flight or Commercial Airline Stretcher

A medical flight is not always necessary to fly a patient domestically or even internationally, and commercial airline stretcher can be a great alternative. However, it must be noted that the stretcher cannot always substitute a medical flight that is equipped with advanced patient care systems. But what if a patient doesn’t need an advanced patient care system? For a patient to fly using commercial airline stretcher, the foremost concern is stability and the suitability to fly, which is determined by the treating physician.

More about Commercial Airline Stretcher

Unlike the medical flight where the patient has the entire flight to himself, commercial airline stretcher uses a part of a regular flight. A few seats are usually taken off to accommodate the patient in a sleeping position on the stretcher, and also to have all necessary medical equipment. The relatives or loved ones of the patient can easily travel along with the patient as there is no constraint for space.

Scheduling a commercial airline stretcher is much easier as the flight would anyway be heading to the destination. However, the patient might need a longer ground transport as the aircraft would only land in the designated area. The cost of the commercial airline stretcher is much lower than a medical flight as it is not a dedicated medical flight for the patient.

Similarities between Medical Flight and Commercial Airline Stretcher

For one, the patient is required to obtain clearance before opting for the stretcher, just the way one does with a medical flight. The provider who offers you the stretcher service will most likely arrange for ground transport as well and coordinate with the receiving facility. The medical team and necessary supplies such as medications and medical equipments too would be arranged.

At the end of the day, making the choice between a medical flight and commercial airline stretcher largely depends on the condition of the patient and the decision of the treating doctor.

Pills over dollars, signifying cost of air ambulance transport

Guide to Ensure Air Ambulance Transport Coverage in Various Circumstances

There are certain non-emergency situations which can warrant air ambulance transport as apposed to other means of medical transportation. This could even be for diagnostic purpose. If the insurance is to cover this amount, the statement delineating the necessity for air ambulance transport must come from the treating physician. The amount would then be covered by the insurance provider of the patient.

What if you don’t have insurance? This is when you really need to start thinking about the cost. Typically air ambulance transport utilizing a twin-engine airplane would cost about $2500 for a 55-mile flight. The amount can go up to $50,000 for longer distances within the country and international flights can cost above $200,000. The cost is most of the times unavoidable.

Having Air Ambulance Transport Membership Can Help

Air ambulance memberships come in various forms. Some memberships are specifically designed for international travel. They give you the security of travelling abroad without worrying about air ambulance transport costs to your home country in case of emergencies. There is usually a nominal annual fee involved.

Certain other type of memberships give you the liberty of paying only such amount that is not covered by the insurance company. For instance, if the cost of air ambulance transport was $100,000 and the insurance pays only $80,000, you would have to pay out of pocket in case you don’t have a membership. Having a membership rids you of this worry.

Things to Keep in Mind to Ensure Adequate Air Ambulance Transport Coverage

Most of the memberships are provided by individual air ambulance service providers. One needs to check out whether the provider you choose has a good network in your region. Checking whether your insurance provider has a tie up with any air ambulance transport company is also vital. If you are travelling abroad, check your travel insurance, and if need be, buy separate coverage, especially if you are going for a high-risk adventure-filled vacation.

A Real-life Guide to Air Ambulance Insurance Coverage

Shauna Laswell recently suffered chest pains and was taken to a local hospital; however, she was diagnosed as having a heart attack. She had to be emergently flown via air ambulance to a Las Vegas hospital. Shauna did get great care and survived the medical emergency. When she received the bill, she was just short of having another heart attack – it was a whopping $38,800! Thanks to her insurance provider who did not cover the air ambulance cost, she got a reimbursement of only $6,200.

Why Was Shauna’s Air Ambulance Bill Not Covered?

Anyone would wonder why air ambulance bill was not covered, as heart attack is a life-threatening situation and definitely warrants an air ambulance flight. For one, the nearest medical facility was not the one she was taken to. Insurances only cover the distance to the appropriate nearest medical facilities. So, the vital question is, “What can I do to avoid a situation like this?”

Few Tips to Ensure Adequate Air Ambulance Insurance Coverage

Remember that only travel to the nearest medical facility is covered by insurance. Also, you are better off hiring the services of the air ambulance attached to the hospital, rather than hiring an independent medical flight service. The ones attached to the hospital are usually cheaper.

Look at the kind of coverage that your insurance provider provides. If there are clauses that keep you from getting full air ambulance cost coverage, steer away from such providers. Most air ambulance services have membership programs. Being a member of such a program gives you immunity against the amount not covered by insurance company. The air ambulance company itself would cover such amount.

Be prepared for eventualities. Air ambulances are being increasingly used these days. So, request for the air ambulance provider that you prefer. Know the air ambulance services that are affiliated with your insurance provider.

Most of the time, insurance companies do not cover 100% of the charges for air ambulance services. The Utah State Insurance Department has even issued a warning to the public in this regard.

Bed to Bed Air Ambulance Service – A Quick Guide

Bed to bed air ambulance services are often used when the patient is critical or needs constant medical attention throughout the transport. Essentially, the air ambulance service would coordinate the services such that the patient is under medical supervision throughout the duration of the transport, including transfer from hospital to the air ambulance and air ambulance to the receiving hospital.

How is Bed to Bed Air Ambulance Service Beneficial?

For one, the patient is constantly under the observation of medical experts. The staff that accompanies the patient is usually provided by a separate agency other than the transferring hospital. The knowledge exchange between medical experts about the patient becomes easier when a bed to bed air ambulance service is used.

The air ambulance staff also makes arrangements for ground ambulance in case there is a need to transport the patient by land from the airport to the receiving hospital. At the same time, the air ambulance service would ensure that all vital arrangements in the ground ambulance are ready. This effort also reduces the transit time. Moreover, due to constant communication, the ground staff would be aware of the patient condition at all times.

The same goes with the receiving hospital too. In other words, the condition of the patient can be constantly communicated to the receiving hospital and all necessary arrangements can be made beforehand. Such an arrangement puts the worries of the patient’s loved ones to rest for the most part.

Is Bed to Bed Air Ambulance Service Expensive?

It is slightly more expensive when compared to ground ambulance transport and a normal air ambulance transport where the patient is brought to the medical flight independently.

The fact that there is a lot of coordination involved with bed to bed air ambulance service increases the price a bit. However, one must realize that the ground ambulance coverage and air ambulance coverage are calculated separately by insurance companies and if the doctor has recommended such close monitoring, the chances are that the entire cost will be borne by the insurance provider.

Availing bed to bed air ambulance service is not a call that you must take on your own. The decision must be left to the qualified medical professionals as it is only then that this service is approved by insurance providers.

Guide to Air Ambulance Cover during Extreme Sports Trips

If you are going on an extreme sports trip, the chances of needing medical care and air ambulance cover are naturally more. So, you need to question yourself, “Is mere travel insurance enough?” In fact, there are special travel insurance designed just for the purpose and you must look into them. However, before that, you must know certain facts.

Classifying Extreme Sports before Looking at Air Ambulance Cover

Going for a swim in calm waters or ruffling some waves by the beach does not count as extreme sports. Extreme sports are those where there is a high likelihood of mishaps, even after safety precautions, and can warrant emergency medical treatments including air ambulance evacuations. Some of these are:

  • Deep sea scuba diving
  • River rafting
  • Skiing
  • Paragliding
  • Snowboarding
  • Motocross
  • Rock climbing
  • High altitude mountaineering
  • Hand-gliding
  • Parachuting
  • Bungee jumping
  • High-speed or cross-country biking

Air Ambulance Cover and Insurance are no Substitute for Reasonable Precautions

Most extreme sporting companies will not even entertain your request unless you have adequate extreme sports insurance. They might also demand that you have enough extreme sporting experience and practice behind you. The reason is simple; the eventualities in such sports can even mean death or disability. Having adequate insurance and air ambulance cover increases your chances of survival drastically. You are assured of immediate medical care in any foreign countries. One must note in this context that most countries outside the US demand assurance of payments before the treatment is initiated.

Choosing the Air Ambulance Cover and Insurance

Here are a few points that you need to consider:

  • Your sports insurance might cover air ambulance evacuations. If that’s the case you don’t have to worry at all. However, it is vital to look whether there are limitations to this cover.
  • Compare the costs. Sometimes buying a separate air ambulance cover is more economically viable. So check whether the travel insurance company is charging you exorbitant rates.
  • Compare between various travel-insurance providers and compare the prices and the kind of facilities being provided. You would not only need air ambulance evacuation cover, but also coverage for medical consultation, hospitalization, and treatment.
  • If you are going as a couple or a group, look for discounts. Never hesitate speaking to the company’s representative.

You need to fill your forms for extreme sports travel insurance clearly and mention the kind of activities that you would be involved in to avoid confusion later.

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.

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.