If you’re guessing that we are discussing more about health insurance, you must know that we aren’t. What we discuss here is the malpractice insurance and liability insurance coverage that an air ambulance service is mandated to provide. Let’s discuss each of the insurance individually and see what they mean for you.
Air Ambulance Service and Liability Insurance
What do you think of a car driver who does not have adequate liability insurance? The answer in one world would be “irresponsible.” The same holds good for an air ambulance service. You do not want to associate with an air ambulance service provider that doesn’t care for such responsibilities. In fact, all air ambulance companies in the United States must have a liability insurance cover of $20 million.
What if the air ambulance service you travel does not have liability cover? You don’t have to worry about that in terms of legality, it is entirely the responsibility of the service provider. However, such coverage is an indication of the air ambulance service provider’s reputation.
Air Ambulance Service and Malpractice Insurance
Of course, the last thing you want is a malpractice situation. There’s no doubt about that but medical malpractice does exist and you need coverage against it. Wouldn’t you want your physician or ground medical transportation to have malpractice insurance to feel secure? This should be no different for an air ambulance service. The law mandates that every air ambulance service in the United States has a policy that covers $1 million for medical malpractice.
Ask the Air Ambulance Service about Insurance Covers
The air ambulance service providers are under no obligation to make their insurance covers public. However, most reliable air ambulance service providers come forth with complete information regarding both liability and medical malpractice coverage. This shows that such providers are patient-oriented. If an air ambulance company is unwilling to discuss these details with you, perhaps you should look elsewhere for this life-saving medical service.
Alaska, the biggest state in the US is also one of the most thinly populated areas, apart from its rough terrains. Airambulance is often the only reasonable means of transport during emergencies. Most citizens of Alaska always opt for adequate cover through private insurance providers to cover any eventualities that may demand airambulance services. Airlift Northwest’s AirCare insurance program is one of them.
The Airambulance Insurance was Deemed Illegal Earlier
Late last year, AirCare was deemed illegal by the state due to a technicality. The problem arose when there was a change in the insurance company’s ownership. Thanks to Gov. Sean Parnell, the changes have now been made, so that the residents of Alaska can continue to enjoy the security of having airambulance coverage. The Governor had passed the bill specifically to accommodate insurance programs that reduce the “out of pocket” payment burden that people have to face. It was a part of the Affordable Care Act.
What does Airambulance Insurance mean for Alaskans?
Take the example of Lubins family. Their daughter, Ella, 13, had fallen off a horse and suffered life-threatening injuries including a skull fracture. She was immediately taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle via airambulance, as the local hospital was not equipped to handle the extent of her injuries. Ella was fortunate to get treatment on time and is now recovering. However, the cost had come up to $82,000. Thanks to the family’s insurance, they only had to pay about $9000.
In essence, airambulance insurance means the difference between bankruptcy and a normal life. The family only pays about $99 for this coverage. More than 3000 people in Alaska have so far opted for AirCare insurance coverage.
Airambulance insurance providers in Alaska also offer coverage to visitors. The coverage costs as little as $80 and runs for about 3 consecutive months.
When we discuss medical air transport, we resign to the fact that it is going to be an expensive affair. Well, if you are one such person, you cannot be blamed. Media today is filled with stories about bankruptcies and bills that run over several thousands – all thanks to medical air transport.
What if we told you a few wise decisions can contain the costs to a large extent? Of course, it is wise to have medical air transport membership cards and insurances that cover you for air evacuation. But if you are caught in a situation where you don’t have the privilege of such facilities, how do you tackle the situation without having to pay a huge amount? Here, we bring you the answer to this pressing question.
Medical Air Transport Low Price Guarantee
Surprised?! Medical air transport industry today is highly competitive and there are service providers out there who bring you a low price guarantee. These providers will either match the price or bring you the services for a lesser price without compromising on the quality.
Medical Air Transport Vehicle
The medical air transport vehicle you choose can determine the costs. For instance, a twin-jet aircraft will cost less than a jet engine aircraft. Turboprops are another low cost option. As a consumer, you have the right to choose the aircraft in order to keep the costs low. Make cost inquiries about these options before you choose one.
Explore Alternatives to Medical Air Transport
Ask the treating physician whether an air medical escort or air medical stretcher service would suffice. Such services can cut the cost by half or even more sometimes. Also, sometimes, you can share a medical flight if another patient is heading in the same direction. This can be another option to cut down the costs.
Most importantly, never hesitate to discuss cost savings with the medical air transport provider that you choose.
Insurance is the foremost financial consideration when it comes to a medical flight; however, we’ve had enough discussion on the subject. There are also other factors that one must bear in mind. The cost of a medical flight largely depends on the aspects that we discuss below.
Does the Medical Flight Need Prepping for Special Equipment?
If the patient needs traction, cardiac monitors, ventilator and similar equipment, there is obviously going to be a cost attached to them. These factors will increase the price of the medical flight. If the medication is provided by the provider of the medical flight, the costs might even go higher.
The Destination and Duration of Medical Flight
It goes without saying that a longer medical flight costs more. However, the cost of flying from one country to another can push the costs even higher. As most health insurances do not cover overseas medical flight, the patient might have to bear a huge burden. Having a comprehensive travel insurance that covers such costs or being a part of medical flight membership programs is vital before overseas travel.
Distance between Transferring Facility and Receiving Facility from Airport/Helipad
Most of the medical flight service providers take care of all details including transportation of the patient from the transferring hospital to receiving hospital. One must understand that this demands considerable coordination. If the receiving facility is located in a foreign country, the service provider would have to take care of customs, visa, and other formalities too. The medical flight service providers charge for all their efforts. If it involves, ground transport, the patient will also be billed for that.
The costs might also depend on the type of aircraft used. Travelling through a long-range medical flight can be expensive but necessary. However, when it comes to medical transportation, all service providers are not equal. Some charge considerably more than others. It is for you to weigh the costs against the benefits and take a call, if at all possible.
With the cost of even a short air medical transport flight running into thousands of dollars, a little homework before zeroing on one is not a bad idea, especially if you have the liberty of doing so. Keep in mind that you would not have the liberty or time to choose an air medical transport operator during emergencies. However, if the situation is not life-threatening, it pays to look into certain aspects.
How Far is the Air Medical Transport Vehicle from You?
You might be paying for the distance covered by the air medical transport vehicle to reach you. So, it’s vital that you contact a local air ambulance company, which stations its vehicle close to you. This can save you several hundreds or even thousands.
Have you Got a Final Quote for the Air Ambulance Transport?
The quote that you receive from the company might not be all inclusive. This means you might have to shell out more money than what is mentioned in the quote. Contact your flight coordinator to know the exact details about the price quote.
Does your Insurance Cover Air Ambulance Transport?
There are several guidelines that one needs to follow to assure smooth coverage of air ambulance transport costs by the insurance provider. Look at aspects such as medical necessity, closest appropriate medical facility, and treating physician’s approval even before you start looking for an air ambulance.
Does the Air Ambulance Company offer Comprehensive Services?
There are several aspects that must be taken care of:
- The transport of the patient from the hospital to the air ambulance
- Transport from air ambulance to ground ambulance
- Coordination with receiving facility
- Medical repatriation beyond borders
Opt for an air ambulance company that covers these corners. Involving yourself in these matters can be time consuming and might cost you extra.
Finally, check whether you can substitute air ambulance for a commercial airline. Simple things like IV fluids, professional care, and stretchers can be accommodated in a commercial airline too, which cost far less than an air ambulance.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
- Rock climbing
- High altitude mountaineering
- 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.