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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
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 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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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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