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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Medical Specialties & Departments > Air Ambulance

Air Ambulance Cost


How Much Does an Air Ambulance Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: $50-$500+high costWithout Health Insurance: $2,000-$200,000
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An air ambulance is a specially equipped and staffed helicopter or airplane that performs emergency or scheduled transports.

Typical costs:

  • Air ambulance service typically is covered by health insurance in certain types of emergencies or if a doctor certifies that air transport is medically necessary, and if a patient is going to the nearest appropriate facility. If transport is being done for convenience, such as to relocate nearer to family, it might not be covered. For example, BlueCross Blue Shield of Alabama[1] covers air transport on many of its policies, including transportation to a hospital near home for patients injured or hospitalized more than 200 miles from home. For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a copay of less than $50 to $500 or more, or coinsurance of 10 % to 50% or more for a total that could reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum.
  • For patients without health insurance, the cost of air ambulance service typically depends on: the current cost of jet fuel, the type of aircraft used, the distance flown and the type of medical staff required. The total can be less than $2,000 for a short flight to almost $50,000 for a longer domestic flight to $200,000 or more for an international flight. For example, Air Ambulance 1[2] charges about $2,500 for a 55-mile flight on a twin-engine propeller plane, staffed by paramedics, from Saint Joseph, MO, to Kansas City, MO. Air Ambulance 1 charges about $25,000 for a flight on a light jet, staffed by paramedics, from Kansas City to Los Angeles. National Air Ambulance charges about $37,400 for a flight from New York to California staffed by a nurse and paramedic. For a flight from Arizona to Australia, Air Ambulance 1 charges about $155,000 on a light jet, if staffed by paramedics (about $160,000 if staffed by a doctor and nurse) or about $177,000 on a mid-sized jet (about $182,000 if staffed by a doctor and nurse).
Related articles: Emergency Room Visit, Ambulance, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • If planned in advance, an air ambulance service should include a pre-flight medical evaluation and consultation with the patient's physician to determine the equipment and care needed during the flight.
  • The flight typically takes place on a helicopter, a propeller plane, or a jet that is equipped with a flight stretcher and advanced life-support equipment, including oxygen, a ventilator, monitors, a defibrillator, IV equipment and other medical supplies. Typically, at least one family member may accompany the patient at no extra charge.
Additional costs:
  • Some companies do not include ground ambulance transport from the current facility to the aircraft and from the landing location to the new facility.
  • Arranging an air ambulance flight through a broker can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the final cost due to commissions paid to the broker. Or, a service such as AirAmbulanceBroker.com provides price quotes from various companies for free.
Discounts:
  • Many air ambulance services offer discounts to patients who are flexible; most commonly, if one patient is flying from one city to another, and another is flying back to the city of origin, both patients can be offered discounts of 30% or more.
  • For fairly stable patients, a specially trained medical escort, usually a paramedic or nurse, can accompany the patient on a commercial flight for a fraction of the cost of an air ambulance. MercyMedical.org[3] lists organizations that help patients in need secure air ambulance service at a reduced cost.
Shopping for an air ambulance:
  • The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems, a non-profit organization that offers a voluntary evaluation and accreditation program and has consulted with some states about safety and quality standards, offers a state-by-state list of providers accredited by their organization. If an insurance company is covering the cost, they probably will secure the provider.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the flight aspect of air ambulance services, but there is no federal oversight of the medical component, which typically is regulated by state health departments. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[4] offers a state health department locator, so check with the state where the patient is being picked up to determine requirements and verify licensing of the provider.
  • Ask what accreditation and/or licensing the provider has, what kind of training and licensing their medical personnel have, how many and what type of medical personnel will be on the flight, what kind of aircraft will be used, whether the aircraft is pressurized, and what kind of equipment is onboard. NationalJets.com offers a guide to choosing an air ambulance service.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments

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Air lifted to Trauma
Amount: $28,000.00
Posted by: Steph D. in Fleetwood, PA.Posted: January 24th, 2018 07:01PM
Type of Aircraft: helicopterMedical Personnel: Nurse and DR
My 23 year old son was in a motorcycle accident, air lifted to one trauma center, then air lifted to another trauma center, actually died 3 times. Had a lawyer, why else pay so much for health
insurance. Didn't pay a cent. But would have gladly paid to keep my son alive.
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Extortion by air ambulance
Amount: $48,000.00
Posted by: Stressed in Illinois in Arthur, IL.Posted: December 24th, 2017 06:12AM
Type of Aircraft: helicopterMedical Personnel: 2
My son was in a car accident. His car flipped multiple times, only one air bag went off. He was airlifted 38 miles, 15 min for a ridiculous $48,000. The insurance isn't paying a cent. They had their own medical consultant who said he did not need to be airlifted. My son is 25, doesn't have a penny, and doesn't know what to do. This is airway robbery at it's best.
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Air Ambulance
Amount: $38,000.00
Posted by: ATX84 in West Columbia/Houston, TX.Posted: October 11th, 2017 06:10AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: Nurse, Paramedic
Total rip off; 15 min ride; roughly 50 miles. Helicopter was nothing fancy (didn't seem like life flight). I questioned multiple times when in the ambulance whether flight was necessary, and they insisted I take the helicopter due to my medical situation. They made me feel like I couldn't decline it; even though at one point I even argued the ambulance ride.
If the patient covers the cost, the helicopter should be mandated to disclose the cost up front.
Who charges the cost of a persons yearly salary, and expects them to pay without giving them any estimate of cost? If I buy a $40,000 car, I have to have my credit checked, verification of income, work out payments, etc.
For that much, I'll take my chances in the ambulance. Never again. I'm thinking of getting a tattoo on my chest that says "Do not transport by helicopter". I'm all for free market, but requires being up front about pricing, and responsibility.
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Stroke victim, hospital to hospital
Amount: $33,000.00
Posted by: Keith Jackson in Covington, LA.Posted: September 19th, 2017 04:09PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2
Wife had stroke and they requested airlift to another one of their subsidiary hospitals across Lake Pontchartrain 37 miles away. She was in ICU but not life threatening at the time. They requested the air lift in stead of ground. Of coarse I agreed, but was it really necessary
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cost of air ambulance
Amount: $10,000.00
Posted by: John999R in Lincoln, CA.Posted: August 19th, 2017 11:08AM
Type of Aircraft: helicopterMedical Personnel: two
ten minute flight to trauma center after motorcycle accident with multiple injuries. Insurance paid zero, but after reading the above stories, I feel I got the deal of the century paying only 10 grand. Still ridiculous in my book. They allowed me to make monthly payments until balance was paid. I should look into a program motorcycle racers participate in whereby you get a very low membership rate for air ambulance services.
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Outrageous Expense
Amount: $79,000.00
Posted by: Youare KiddingMe in Kingsport, TN.Posted: July 5th, 2017 03:07PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2
1 hour and 20 minute flight from a hospital who is in my plan to a hospital that is in my plan and both have medflight helicopters. Found out after the fact that the helicopter that flew my son was neither of the hospitals helicopters and the one that did is not in my insurance network and they want to charge me $79K and stated that $79K is reasonable and customary. Additionally, they want me to sigh away my rights to let them negotiate with my insurance on what I end up having to pay. Yea, right! Are you kidding me!
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Air ambulance
Amount: $2,000.00
Posted by: Amy Dailey in White pigeon, MI.Posted: May 20th, 2017 12:05PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel:
29 miles. Took 10 mind by air. They said we had to air lift BECAUSE my husband had a stroke and we needed to get him there asap so they could give him a clot busting med. Which he didn't get. It was $166.82 per mile for gas.its not right how they charge. The fuel is 8.00 per gallon.
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Insane costs.
Amount: $65,000.00
Posted by: Kimmy R in Challis, ID.Posted: April 25th, 2017 06:04PM
Type of Aircraft: AirplaneMedical Personnel: Two
Small hospital was not equipped for treatment of my illness.Crappy way to spend Easter.
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Tired of being taken advantage of
Amount: $32,899.00
Posted by: Tired of being raped by service providers Steven in Booneville, AR.Posted: April 18th, 2017 12:04PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: Paramedic,nurse
I was in auto accident broke my femur and wrist airlifted 31 miles. When I called the company to dispute charge she says and I quote that's your opinion and that's our charge so if life's not worth it then your in sad shape. I said why should I pay $33,000 when I can go to fair and pay 50.00 for scenic 15 min flight I know the medical personal are not the extra $32,000. I just didn't appreciate the it's your life value so pay up attitude from the billing I told I'm glad the medics didn't have the same gimme my money attitude. BTW this is only directed to the service provider and their business office
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Air Ambulance
Amount: $33,900.00
Posted by: Christopher Cluver in Bishop, NV.Posted: March 24th, 2017 02:03PM
Type of Aircraft: Twin propMedical Personnel: EKG monitoring only
KBIH (Bishop, CA) to Reno, NV. Sierra Aviation. Total distance, 165 miles.
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Emergency Air Evacuation
Amount: $523,000.00
Posted by: Lee Coleman in Charlotte Amalia, St. Thomas, VI, MD.Posted: January 27th, 2017 07:01PM
Type of Aircraft: Lear JetMedical Personnel: Nurse, Paramedic
Cost was astronomical. Estimate was cost per nautical mile so useless. Flight went from St. Thomas, VI, to Ft. Lauderdale, to Teterboro, NJ, to BWI,
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Air Ambulance bill is excessive
Amount: $34,000.00
Posted by: CNB in Gulf Breeze, FL.Posted: December 30th, 2016 04:12AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: Paramedics
My daughter fell and hit her head causing her to lose consciousness. The hospital was less than 10 miles away by car, but because we would have to cross a bridge, a helicopter was used. We were billed almost $37,000 for the flight. BC/BS of Florida paid $4500. Air Methods is balance billing me more than $32,000.
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Way too much for 30 minute ride
Amount: $40,810.00
Posted by: Jordon Bruce in Fredericksburg, VA.Posted: December 6th, 2016 10:12AM
Type of Aircraft: AirmedicalMedical Personnel: 1
I was in an auto accident in Fredericksburg va. I had an open book pelvic fracture which mary washington hospital said they couldnt do the prosedure so they said i had to be helivacd to vcu hospital in richmond va to get the surgery. If i knew it was going to cost 41k i would of told them to send me in an ambulance.
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Outrageous Cost by Flight for Life
Amount: $75,000.00
Posted by: Royally Screwed in PA in Philadelphia suburbs, PA.Posted: November 22nd, 2016 09:11PM
Type of Aircraft: Medical HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2
One hospital told me I had to go to the other hospital (5 miles away!!, literally the next town over), because the first hospital does not have a cardiac center equipped to deal with my problem. The doctor said I had to be transported ASAP to the second hospital, and could not travel by ground ambulance. After arriving in ICU, I learned that 1) I could have waited -- it was NOT as critical as I was told, and 2) that same 1st hospital sent another patient to ICU where I was that same night, also by medical helicopter. I heard ICU medical personnel outside my room discussing the bizarre situations entering their ICU.
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Airlift
Amount: $51,000.00
Posted by: Cynthia Campbell-Wolters in Fredericksburg, TX.Posted: November 16th, 2016 07:11AM
Type of Aircraft: Medical Personnel: 1 nurse, 1 pilot
My husband had a seizure at home one morning in Fredericksburg, TX. I called 911 and they sent an ambulance. At the hospital he had a CAT scan. The ER Dr. said it showed a bleed in his brain. He said they needed to Airlift him to San Antonio to the Trauma Center. It was an 18 min flight. It is a 40-50 minute drive by car at 80mph on I-10. At trauma the neurologist told us that it was just a bad CAT scan. We had just changed Insurance companies because we were self-employed and uninsurable in Texas. Both companies we had been with for many years pulled out. The new company paid $1000.00. Now we are left with a $49978.22 bill. $27373.60 for the helicopter and $23605.12 for fuel. For an 18 minute flight. 61 miles. We are desperately trying to figure out how to pay this.
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In shock
Amount: $59,695.00
Posted by: Andrewinshock in Sryacuse, NY.Posted: October 20th, 2016 07:10PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2 EMTs
I was taken to the hospital for 2nd and 3rd degree burns. I told the local emergency that I dint want to take a helicopter bc I couldn't afford the cost. I had figured the cost was high but had no idea it would cost $60,000 for a 25 min flight. I have been researching the cost of fuel and the personnel payroll to man one of thes helicopters and I can see no way of how they can charge so much. I'm going to fight this has anyone else done the same with any good results?
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air medthods
Amount: $51,867.00
Posted by: gizmo in akron, OH.Posted: September 19th, 2016 12:09PM
Type of Aircraft: helicoptormMedical Personnel: 2
My husband was transported by rocky mountain holdings air meds because of a brain bleed. It eas only a 40 mile flight. They charged 51,867 dollars.Our insurance paid 12,591 dollars said that is reasonable and customary. They are billing me 38,690. Can anyone help to let me know what to do next. Is this something that is legal.Should i get an attorney or just refuse to pay.
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Cost of air ambulance
Amount: $32,185.81
Posted by: Milos in Dyer IN, IN.Posted: September 6th, 2016 03:09PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2
My son (2yo) took a fall on Christmas even and was taken to local emergency room where we found out he had epidural hematoma (cracked skull). He was rushed to a local Chicago children's hospital, 27 miles away, to undergo an emergency procedure. Thank God and great doctors and nurses, he has made a full recovery. My insurance has covered $19,236, and Arch Air Medical is billing me directly for the remaining balance of $12, 949.81. Arch air has turned me over to a collection agency, which in turn has ruined my credit. Can anyone help?
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Air ambulance over charging per flight
Amount: $39,981.57
Posted by: Overcharged in Kansas in Satanta, KS.Posted: August 18th, 2016 08:08AM
Type of Aircraft: King Air turbopropMedical Personnel: 2
My 19-year-old son was injured in an ATV accident about A 4" cut behind his right ear. We transported him to the local emergency room in a small town in Kansas. After one dressing CAT scan and sutures we were informed that the doctor thought we needed to transport him to Wichita do to slight hemorrhaging and mild concussion. I am not convinced that an Air transportation flight was warranted. I believe that compensation is due for services rendered but this is ridiculous 200 mile flight and about 12 mile total ambulance ride over $40,000 get real. That's about what I make in six months averaging 55 hours per week I'm not sure their time is that much more valuable than mine. One aircraft two pilots two EMTs how much were they paid per hour I'm sure it is far less than we were billed.
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Air Ambulance from Fresno, CA to San Francisco, CA(400 miles or so)
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: Kathleen Tripp in Fresno, AZ.Posted: July 24th, 2016 09:07AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: Air Medics
I am so sorry what everyone is going through with costs and it is scary.... My husband had to be transported due to catastrophic liver failure in 2006 it was PHI Air the cost was just about $17,000 our group health insurance Aetna at the time before Obamacare paid 100%... My brother in law worked for PHI and they said if ins. didn't pay bill they would eat the cost.... Great owners of PHI. Granted brother in law worked for them and they wanted to save his brother but.... We just had our 10 yr. liver tranplant anniversary......
I would recommend not ever paying the balances when you can't afford it, or check into an emergency medical plan that may cover that, or confirm the ins. has paid all they are going to, and last but not least check into filing bankruptcy to see if you can get out of the debt.... If you can't file bankruptcy then offer to send payments of $10.00 a month or something and then of course you will never pay it off since you are broke....
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Excessive Air Ambulance Charges
Amount: $10,000.00
Posted by: Sharon L in Fort Worth, TX.Posted: July 6th, 2016 06:07PM
I see a lot of ridiculous charges on here, and sadly many people who think they will lose their life savings or homes! No you won't! Dispute! Dispute! Dispute! Dispute the charges from the ambulance company AND dispute the charges not paid by the insurance company! Don't bother calling them on the phone. Write a dispute letter and mail it, certified, to both the insurance company AND the ambulance company every time you receive a bill from them. If you receive a call from a collection company, let them know the the account is in the dispute process, and disregard any unethical threats! Don't forget, you DO NOT have to speak to anyone on the phone if you choose not to, so don't feel obligated. Also, when you receive a denial letter, send another letter of dispute. Don't let this worry, consume your life! In the long run, they will either write if off, or reduce the amount owed and send it for collection. At that time, you can determine whether you think the amount is reasonable.
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air helicopter
Amount: $50,000.00
Posted by: Chrisjo in Valparaiso, IN.Posted: June 12th, 2016 04:06PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel:
I had to be airlifted 50 miles. My Anthem insurance only covered $7,000. I really think they don't make contracts with your insurance company so they can see how much money they can get out of you. How much does it cost to operate a helicopter for 50 miles. They don't give you a break down!
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They Didn\\\'t Even Serve Peanuts...
Amount: $59,990.00
Posted by: Grrr in El Paso, TX.Posted: March 30th, 2016 10:03AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 3
43 minute flight to El Paso. Great crew but then came the sticker shock. Not only was there $33k for mileage, but there was another 27k listed for "helicopter rotor base" - possibly a maintenance charge. Air Methods requested that I sign away rights to appeal to them in order to bill my insurance company. Wow! Not signing and seeking legal advice.
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cost of "flight for life"
Amount: $30,000.00
Posted by: psychosgirl in sturgeon bay, WI.Posted: February 18th, 2016 02:02AM
Type of Aircraft: helicoptorMedical Personnel:
my husband caught on fire in our house. I put him out and had to talk him into going to the hospital (b/c our insurance is a bunch of cheapskates, he did not want to go), but the ER doc said he had to go to a burn unit (the closest was over 200 miles away and he was intubated) so they air lifted him and now they want $22,000 from us [appealing the insurance] #now weknowwhatlifeisworth
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Cost of Air Ambulance
Amount: $26,536.00
Posted by: Robin in North Ridgeville OH in Cleveland, OH.Posted: January 22nd, 2016 01:01PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2 and the pilot
balance is $22,454.47. Care First Blue Cross and Blue Shield paid what they said would be 100% if it were an in network air ambulance that amount was $4,181.53. It is my understanding that no air ambulance companies are in network because they will not except negotiated rates by any insurance companies. I had a heart Attack and had to be taken to that facility per the doctor in the emergency room. I can not believe that Ambulance companies can be charging these types of balances at all. There must be regulations to these types of charges. I only went for a 10 minute ride which was probably only 23 miles if that. Like someone else said we do not take these rides for the joy of the ride. There is no joy in these rides we are afraid we are going to die at this time. It is like paying someone's salary for a yr or buying a car with cash. I have not paid this balance yet and I fear that everything I have worked for all of my life can be taken away from me. I have been working with
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Charge for helicopter transport
Amount: $30,000.00
Posted by: Carol Reid in Troy, MI.Posted: January 10th, 2016 09:01AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel:
My flight from mt. Clemens hospital to beaumont hospital was only 18.7 miles. This is the most ridiculous charge ever. My insurance will only pay $6,000. Help!
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External Resources:
  1.  /www.bcbsal.org/providers/helpful/Ambulance%20Coverage%20Policy.cfm
  2.  www.airambulance1.com/instant-quote
  3.  mercymedical.org/helpful-links/
  4.  www.cdc.gov/mmwr/international/relres.html
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