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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
Even with insurance looking at going broke
Amount: $55,000.00
Posted by: Broke and confused. in Rock Springs, WY.Posted: August 30th, 2015 07:08PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2
Recently on a camping vacation my 11 year old became very sick. Took him to the closest hospital. Found out he is type 1 diabetic. Was very sick and had to be flown from Rock Springs WY, to Salt Lake City, UT. 185 mile on the ground. BCBS sent me a check for $30,800 dollars? This way it gets them out of negotiations leaving me stuck in the middle. Air Medics wants me to sign over that check in addition to paying the remaining $24,200. There is no breakdown of cost, just a number they pull out of the air. Outside of the medical industry it would be consider extortion and potentially land them in prison. Not sure what to do next?
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Flight for Life - CO to NM
Amount: $47,000.00
Posted by: a user in Durango, CO.Posted: August 28th, 2015 03:08PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 2
Flight for life transported my baby girl from Durango, CO to Albuquerque, NM during a medical emergency. ~150 miles. Talk about excessive!
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Cost of air ambulance
Amount: $54,999.00
Posted by: a user in Hazard, KY.Posted: August 4th, 2015 04:08PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: Pilot and 2 medical personnel
115 miles from ER in my small town to university hospital. My son had an avulsion amputation (index finger). No price on best care for my children but I did not dream it would cost $55,000!! WOW!!! July 2015, no option for current year below.
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Emergency air flight
Amount: $31,500.00
Posted by: Just wanted a ride not to purchase in Livingston, MT.Posted: June 21st, 2015 07:06AM
Type of Aircraft: twin propMedical Personnel: 2
Friday night stroke @ 6pm. Drove myself 4 blocks to hospital @ 9pm. Dr. determined to send me to hospital 130mi away. Local ambulance service only had one crew available and could not dispatch. Waited about 2 hours for air ambulance to arrive and then it was a 24 min flight to destination. Valley Med Flight billing $31,500. EBMS paid $6,900. REALLY?! Anyone like to buy a used kidney?
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Arch Air Medical Service in Missouri
Amount: $45,537.50
Posted by: Juell Brandt in Nevada, MO.Posted: June 20th, 2015 06:06AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: paramedics
My 89 year old mom was in the nursing home when she became more ill with heart disease. The local ER doctor decided to life flight her 60 miles to Joplin. They stabilized her with medications in the bigger hospital.She passed away a few months later in the local hospital. Her insurance is paying $27,592.50 of the life flight bill, but disallowed $17945.00. They are leaving her owing $22083.88. I want to know what can they do to me since she is passed away. The is an old house that she owned, so I guess they can put a lien on it and take it as there is no way we can pay this bill. Nothing else was in her name. It is outrageous to be charged $45000 for a 60 mile flight. Unacceptable practices... why can't someone stop them?
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cost of air ambulance New York to Los Angeles
Amount: $21,000.00
Posted by: JClark in Los Angeles, Ca in Los Angeles, CA.Posted: June 11th, 2015 10:06AM
Type of Aircraft: JetMedical Personnel: 3 - Pilot, Nurse, Paramedic
Transported from New York to Los Angeles using a Jet from Angel MedFlight. This was the lowest price I could find at $21,000. I thought it was a good price, which is why I went with them.
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$1,000 per mile
Amount: $47,000.00
Posted by: R. Beck USA ret. medic in Akron, Ohio, OH.Posted: April 21st, 2015 06:04PM
Type of Aircraft: helicopterMedical Personnel: ? RN
Last summer my 88 y.o. mother was aerovac’d by chopper from Akron Gen to their owner, the Cleveland Clinic, about 47 miles away. She was billed for $1000 per mile, i.e. $47,000. Once she was in C.C. they treated her with drugs only, as if A.G. didn’t know how to do that for her. AG is one of the best voted hospitals in Ohio. I wonder if the aeromedic company gives AG a kick back for the business?
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excessive cost of air ambulance
Amount: $39,000.00
Posted by: a user in harrison, AR.Posted: April 11th, 2015 08:04AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 1 pilot, 1 medic
I delivered my wife to the heliport during a major heart attack, she was flown by "Air Evac Life Team" of Arkansas 45 mi. and charged $50,302.56. "Blue cross Blue Shield" paid $5,460.00 and life flight expects me to pay the balance. "Air Evac Life Team" is charging approx. $1,000.00 per mile. After paying $150.00 a year for the last 7 years to be a member Air Evac Lifeteam Orginazation??? What is the point of being a member if your charged "TWICE the national average for their service????
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Way over priced
Amount: $43,000.00
Posted by: Jeff R in Marengo, IL.Posted: March 9th, 2015 10:03AM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: 3
They believed I had an infection in my appendix so I was flown about a half hour from Marengo, IL to Elgin,IL my insurance said I didn't need to go by air so they are covering nothing
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Cost of air ambulance helicopter- covered by MEDI-CAL
Amount: $52,000.00
Posted by: Lisa Cheek in San Luis Obispo, CA.Posted: January 30th, 2015 11:01PM
Type of Aircraft: HelicopterMedical Personnel: paramedics??? unsure
San luis Obispo CA to Fresno CA.APROX (150 miles in a car). When i woke up in ICU 12 hrs later...doctors thought I had a hole in my heart. Said I had 19 min til the helicopter was picking me up. Brought my day ND a half old newborn to me, had to leave her there.
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Don't Pay Anything If You Have Insuance
Amount: $24,000.00
Posted by: No Go in St augustine, FL.Posted: December 30th, 2014 08:12AM
Type of Aircraft: Medical Personnel: Air Methods
My husband had an accident and was life-flighted 34 miles to the trauma center. Our insurance BCBS paid 5,000 which was the max benefit. Afterwards Air Methods wanted to balance bill us for the remainder. That's illegal in the state of Florida because the air transport agreed to the contractual amount from the insurance, but that didn't stop them from trying for two years to get the balance. I'm filing a complaint with the state attorney general now to see if that department can get this company to back off of this activity.
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air ambulance in mississippi
Amount: $32,000.00
Posted by: JohnK in Hattiesburg, MS.Posted: October 20th, 2014 11:10AM
Type of Aircraft: light helicopterMedical Personnel: 1
Short ride from Picayune, MS to Hattiesburg, MS (about 18min) cost over $32K after BCBS payment. This was not a dedicated air ambulance either, they had taken out one of the pilot seats and stuffed me in there. I have not paid these people yet, that is why I am looking at the net for excessive charging.
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cost of air ambulance
Amount: $33,384.90
Posted by: going broke at 63 in chickasha, OK.Posted: September 21st, 2014 09:09AM
Type of Aircraft: helicopterMedical Personnel: two
Transported 44 miles from hospital to hospital. the cost for the ride $33,384.90. BlueCross of Oklahoma paid $4142.61 Air Methods is balance billing me $29,242.29. The ground transport to and from the same place is about a one hour drive.
The ground ambulance cost is about $ 2000.00.
It will take every penny I have to pay this. The stress of negotiating with Air Methods is onerous. At 63 years old I have no chance to financially recover from this expense.
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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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