The Great North Air Ambulance service which is based out of the United Kingdom recently revealed that it was “completely blown away” by the generous estate that was left behind for it by John Dodds. He was a retired teacher and had recently passed away at the age of 85 years. The air ambulance charity revealed that it was the largest donation that it had ever received by an individual in its history. The medical flight organization, however, refused to reveal the amount as it was the wish of John Dodds. Mr. Dodds, it is believed, was a socially active individual who loved doing things for the community.
How will the Donation Help the Air Ambulance Organization?
It was revealed by the air ambulance charity that it conducts about 400 rescues on an average every year. Each rescue costs them about 5000 British Pounds. The charity covers North Yorkshire, Cumbria, and the North East. The estate left behind by Mr. Dodds will cover about 200 of these rescues, which, no doubt, is a big help for the organization. It also gives us an idea that he has left behind quite a sizeable amount for the air ambulance charity.
A Bit About the Donor
Mr. Dodds was a teacher of math and physics. The man was quite passionate about motorcycles. He was well aware that air ambulances often reach places that land ambulances find hard to do. According to one of his friends, the decision to donate the sum was made later in his life as he had come to appreciate what air ambulance services do for the local communities.
Mr. Dodds would involve himself in community tasks like helping seniors with their shopping trips and even making book calls for those who found it physically tough to go to the library and get books. Certainly, a life well-led.
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.
The air ambulance world is never short of interesting incidents and the past week was no different. Some of the rescues were quite unusual. Besides, there were some new developments that give hope to the injured. Let’s take a look.
Air Ambulance Rescues Kite Surfer in the UK
The incident was quite unusual, in that a kite surfer who was having a fun outdoor day was unexpectedly injured. He was out kite surfing in Lyme Regis beach in the United Kingdom. Suddenly, a strong blow of wind carried him over 20 feet off the ground. The subsequent fall left the surfer injured and shocked. The passers-by were quick to attend to the man and a rescue air ambulance was called. The paramedics were seen at the spot attending to him. It is not yet clear whether the person was on board the air ambulance when it took off again, but one thing is certain, he received treatment on time, thanks to the medical team on the chopper.
Air Ambulance Successfully Carries ECMO in the US
A 24-year-old patient in a Florida hospital was in need of emergency transport for a lung transplant. However, the situation was quite tricky. His oxygen requirements were not ordinary. No oxygen cylinders or ventilators would be sufficient for his condition. What he needed was extracorporeal membrane oxygen or ECMO. The device had never been used on an air ambulance. Complicating the situation was the fact that the treating hospital did not have ECMO facilities. Thankfully, in a first, an air ambulance was able to have this device onboard. The patient was successfully intubated and safely transported to a facility where he had a successful bilateral lung implant.
Air Ambulance Deployed in the Remote Himalayan Region in India
Uttarakhand, India, is a scenic place that attracts both adventurists and pilgrims. The treacherous landscape has meant that landslides and flash floods are quite common. Rescue efforts have been hampered in the past due to poor accessibility. The country’s government has now deployed rescue air ambulances to make the situation better.
Insurance coverage denials have long troubled patients, especially when they avail of air ambulance services based on the suggestions of treating physicians. It must be noted that any patient who is in a serious medical condition cannot deny air ambulance transport surpassing the suggestion by the treating physician. The situation has caused many instances where the cost burden is ultimately transferred to the patient when the insurance company denies coverage. This time around, it was a patient who was suggested to fly to a level 1 trauma hospital in Florida. He was on a cruise at the time, and he had suffered a myocardial infarction.
The Insurance Company Had Suggested Against Using Air Ambulance Service
Insurance companies usually suggest that patients are brought to the nearest appropriate treating facility, else the coverage is denied. However, it is the insurance company that decides the appropriateness of the treating facility. In this case, the treating physician had suggested a facility in Florida whereas the insurance company had suggested a nearby hospital. Despite what the insurance provider had said, the patient was flown to Florida. This was the reason why his insurance coverage was denied. In response to this, the patient has now sued the insurance company.
The Air Ambulance Bill Came up to USD 240,000
An air ambulance bill that runs into huge amounts, such as the one received by the patient in question, can run anyone into bankruptcy. The reason cited for denial was that the advice of the insurance provider was not heeded. The hospital expenses and the land ambulance cost were covered but not the air ambulance service.
The lawsuit was filed on the 6th of October by the patient and names the insurance company for denying the coverage. He believes that the insurance provider had wrongly tried to force him to avail of a medical facility that was not in his best interest.
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.
The air ambulance industry and the insurance industry will soon be coming to a point of intersection as surprise billing practices will come to an end in less than a year in the United States. There has been great public support for this move by the government. The states that were, so far, unable to regulate the air ambulance companies owing to certain federal laws are now assured that prices can be brought under control. At the outset, it seems that everything will go well in the days to come. However, it is important that people look at both sides of the coin and weigh the cons too. Let’s take a look at some of them and the impact they can have on the people.
Private Air Ambulance Companies May Pull Back
While the lawmakers have been enthusiastic in forming the bill to end surprising bills, it must be noted that their involvement in providing air ambulance services to people has been next to nil. In an attempt to appease the masses, they may be shooing away new entrants to the air ambulance market. The United States, unlike countries like the United Kingdom, depend hugely on private players to keep the air ambulances flying. In this context, it must be noted that costs are must cheaper in the United Kingdom, owing to the fact that these companies are mostly charity based. Their funding mostly comes from corporates, the government and the local communities.
The Rural United States May Suffer
An air ambulance company that runs the least number of flights is usually the most expensive. The reason being the cost of maintenance is distributed among a small customer base. This is often the case with rural areas where the population is thin and the demand for air ambulance services is low. If the prices are standardized, air ambulance companies may be discouraged to serve such regions. For the rural United States, which is already suffering from a choppy medical infrastructure, it is not good news.
It is widely believed that the new air ambulance regulation that is aimed at putting curbs to surprising billing practices will come into effect at the beginning of the next year. What it holds for the common man is a mystery to much of the country at this point in time. Most people believe that it will put an end to the unexcepted huge medical and air ambulance bills. While this is true to a very large extent, it is not the entire story. There is more to it. We try and highlight those points that one must know fully.
Air Ambulance Billing Can Be an Individual Choice
You will always be encouraged to take an in-network air ambulance service. The cost will be a concern only for the insurance and medical flight service providers. But what if you want an air ambulance service that is out of your network? Upon giving written consent, you can opt for any medical service that you choose. However, the insurance company may not cover the full amount and you may have to pay the service provider on your own.
The Coverage May Depend on Your Insurance Plan
Co-payments will remain as previously. The only difference is that the co-pay amount will not change based on the network. The regulation is applicable only when the service is provided by a non-participating service provider in emergency situations. This part of the regulation will come in handy in instances where the patient is not the decision-maker. For instance, the call to avail of an air ambulance service may be taken by the treating medical professional during an emergency. The patient might not even be able to give consent. The clearance of the resultant bill does not come under the responsibility of the patient anymore.
From time to time we bring you the latest developments in the air ambulance world. From the changes that the pandemic has brought about to the struggles of air ambulance charities to stay afloat, there is much happening in the space. We cover a few that have made the headlines and turned heads of the world.
Prince William Helps the Air Ambulance Industry Again
The cause of the air ambulance industry, which mainly runs on charity in the UK, is something that is very close to the heart of Prince William who has been a pilot himself. He has been seen helping organizations from time to time through various interventions. This time around, he has lent the lawn of his Kensington Palace residence to aid medical helicopters to refuel amid the pandemic. Without this option, air ambulance vehicles would have to travel an additional 20 miles. The prince is currently residing in their country home in Norfolk.
Air Ambulance Services are Serving Several Countries Amid the Pandemic
Evacuation of people has been a task that several air ambulance companies have taken up during the pandemic. Take for instance REVA a Florida-based medical flight company. Recently, the company had flown people to various parts of the United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom. In this context, it must be noted that cross-border evacuation can be quite complex, especially with lockdowns in several parts of the world.
Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Reports Shortage of Funds
This UK-based charity has reported that it has witnessed a drop of 250,000 British pounds in its funds. The organization relies heavily on public funds to stay afloat. It had been of service to over 1,700 patients last year with each mission costing about 2,000 British pounds. With the lockdown restrictions easing slowly, the demand for its services is expected to grow and the charity is sure to be in a fix to meet this demand.
Here is some food for thought – ever wondered how many missions are spread around the world? According to a 2017 statistic, the number stands at 430 thousand. Close to 50 thousand of them around from the United States. These people do good work around the world helping people with education to healthcare. What happens when these missionaries get sick or are gravely injured? You guessed it right. Air ambulance services come to their rescue and fly them back to their home in the United States. Most of these missionaries work in the remotest parts of the African continent where healthcare can be less than adequate.
The Cost of International Air Ambulance Services Can Be Steep
The air ambulance cost can go up to 100 thousand dollars. Missionaries, of course, are compelled to rely on fund-raising efforts in order to be able to afford these air ambulance services. A Tampa-based company has changed this scenario to a very large extent. The air ambulance company specializes in offering international evacuation services specifically for missionaries. Not just that, the company has gone a step ahead and created customized insurances for evacuating missionaries from all over the world.
The Name of the Air Ambulance Company is Jet ICU
Almost all missions that are conducted by this air ambulance company involve missionaries across the world. There is no corner of the world that it hesitates to travel. Of course, it has also conducted evacuations of people who are not missionaries. The company owns a fleet of six fixed-wing aircraft and an employee pool of around 75. The customized insurance that the company has tried up with is called Missionary Travel Association, through the help of Lloyd’s of London. Most of the churches today across the United States rely on it today.