The New York Times published an article in May that brought questions about the costs in the air ambulance industry. The article from the Times debates the helpfulness of an air ambulance, especially in times of crisis. The article counters the high costs associated with the service can be shocking to people. The problem with the article from the Times is they only focus on one company and paint a broad brush that puts the entire air ambulance industry as dishonest.
While the Times article mainly speaks about helicopter air ambulance services, itís important to note that the entire industry does not only operate helicopters. Many companies use gets or even commercial flights. One important difference is the standards between a short helicopter mission and a longer plane flight. The article notes, correctly, the massive rise in air ambulance companies since the 1980s.
Unfortunately as the industry has expanded, insurance has not. In fact insurance payments for air ambulance services are declining. Several air ambulance professionals have started to appeal to Congress for additional help, to help ease costs on the consumer and provide more industry standard rates. The Times article notes that there is currently legislation being discussed to increase payments from Medicare for air ambulance flights.
The Times article notes the company in question hits people with a whopping bill and is very aggressive about payment, almost immediately after the flight. This is not in line with how reputable air ambulance companies operate. Any air ambulance company worth its weight will work to lower your costs and be understanding about payment options. Researching air ambulance companies can be overwhelming based on the amount of companies in operation today. But you may be in an area that is only served by one company. Certain municipalities may have their own deals with the company.
But itís important to ask the right questions. If you are in an accident, realize that you have options. Never let someone push a service on you unless you agree it is what is best for you. If you arenít badly injured, a ground ambulance may be a better option to reach a hospital. This is usually the case in any non-life-threatening injury situation.
If you have more time and need an air ambulance, do your homework. A good air ambulance company will give you a clear quote and break down costs in a timely manner. Circumstances can always alter a price, however any company should be up front about what you will have to pay.
It is also very important to avoid brokers. Brokers have websites that look just like a real air ambulance company, however they are just middle-men. Ask questions about FAA certifications and you will quickly find out if the company is legit or if you are talking to a broker. Brokers can be helpful if you donít want to do your homework, but all they do is add unnecessary additional costs.
A good air ambulance company will also look at payment options. Sometimes the company will find that the air ambulance is covered by your insurance, in part, or full. If insurance is not an option you can ask about any payment options available.