Air medical services save lives by delivering timely care to critically injured and acutely ill patients in a way no other service can provide.
When patients need critical transport because of life threatening injury or illness and ground transportation is not an option, doctors, nurses or first responders will request air medical services. Without regard for a patient’s ability to pay, air medical services deploy at a moment’s notice to help patients.
Too often, after the call is made and the crisis has passed, patients are informed by their insurance provider that the patient is responsible for the cost of air services.
These surprise bills are due to two factors:
- The insurer’s unwillingness to pay fair and reasonable reimbursement rates
- A federal rule mandating that air medical services, as federal providers of emergent services, make a good faith effort to collect the balance on a bill
Air Medical Services are Critical to Caring for Patients
Nearly one-third of Americans rely on air medical services to reach a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center.
Nearly 90 percent of patients transported by air medical services are from a rural zip code, where access is becoming an increasing issue. Since 2010, 106 of America’s 1,700 rural hospitals closed, expanding the medical desert that is growing across the country [North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. 106 Rural Hospital Closures: January 2010 – Present].
Transporting a patient to a higher level of medical care within the “Golden Hour,” the first hour after the occurrence of a traumatic injury, considered the most critical for successful emergency treatment, not only increases their chances of survival but often improves outcomes and reduces cost/recovery time.