The air ambulance industry that we are proud to be a part of has grown rapidly since we started in 1980. As the elderly population increases and life-expectancy continues to lengthen it's estimated by experts the industry will continue to grow. Also, as more people travel there will be a continued need for air ambulances all over the globe.
Many experts have looked at the air ambulance industry to gauge where we've been, where we are, and where we're going. IBISWorld did some research on the air ambulance industry and estimates the entire industry employs over 219,000 people on either a full or part-time basis all over the world. The industry as a whole accounts for about $16 billion in revenue and has seen annual growth of 1.2% over the last five years. In the United States alone the air ambulance industry is a $4 billion industry with 2.7% growth over the same period.
The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) studies the air ambulance world exclusively and has found that the industry has almost 400,000 planes (either helicopter or fixed wing) in the air today, with more expected as demand continues to rise.
There are several theories about the increase in the air ambulance demand. IBISWorld notes that demand started to increase during the recession. They estimate the need for an air ambulance rose because people waited until critical situations to receive care, due to the loss in health care coverage. The AAMS offers several theories, including a loss of 400 emergency centers and hospitals for 1992 to 2002. The AAMS also notes the reduction of beds in rural hospitals, which has made rural hospitals more basic.
An aging demographic is also the main reason for an increase in air ambulance usage, according to the AAMS. In 2000 there were 605 million people all over the world over the age of 65. The US Department of Health estimates that number will reach nearly 2 billion by 2050. The more elderly people living in more rural areas in the United States and the world means there will be more of a need for air ambulance services.
We also note that more travel will likely increase the need for an air ambulance. As the global community becomes more connected, more younger people are choosing to travel and spend significant time in other parts of the world. As accidents or health related issues pop up, most families are choosing to bring their loved ones back to the States for care.
What does the industry need going forward? Help from governments is the most important need. Continued coverage options for patients via health care from insurance providers will help keep costs affordable enough for people to receive the care they need. For the elderly increases in Medicare coverage for an air ambulance is vital. Right now most people don't think about air ambulance coverage so better education about the services, costs and insurance options to the public will help educate the general population and increase travel times.