What Are the Costs Associated With An Air Ambulance?
by Jennifer Etzel-Elaqad
Director of Sales
This is the number one question we, as Aeromedical Case Managers, get asked when a client is inquiring about an air ambulance. “Air Ambulance” is a broad term and we at AeroCare perform both emergent air ambulance and planned trips; such as moving an older family member closer to family support without the headache of commercial travel. Many factors contribute to the cost of an air ambulance. In this post we will break down how the total price is figured and what we can do to assist you.
How Do You Determine The Price?
Typically, when a client requests a quote, we will ask some general medical questions and demographic questions like the city/state/country the client would like to get pricing options on. Once we have the data provided, we use state-of-the-art quoting software that allows us to pinpoint the closest airport to your sending and destination cities, saving valuable ground time. The system uses live weather data to give us the most accurate flight times so we can generate a precise quote. This program also builds in associated international fees (if applicable) and permits in real-time, saving the client monies by not risking over-estimating those costs.
We are fortunate at AeroCare to have three domestic bases strategically placed in Arizona, Illinois, and Florida. This allows us to be able to offer the most cost-effective options to our clients. For long range international missions, we have alliances with sister companies that are also fully medically-configured and staffed with our Critical Care team members.
What’s Included In The Service?
Every quote from AeroCare, whether Commercial Medical Escort or our fully equipped emergent air ambulance, will include; Critical Care Medical team (RN and Paramedic), ground ambulance or town car service on both ends, continuous monitoring of the flight by our Medical Director, VP of Clinical Operations and our 24 hour Communication center. The Aeromedical Case Manager will be a concierge on the client’s behalf to set up the flight and handle every aspect of until completion. We know this can be an extremely distressing time, when a loved one or friend is ill and far away from support, we do everything to alleviate that stress and make the process as transparent and simple as possible.
Will Insurance Help Pay For The Flight?
Insurance is an ever-changing environment of rules and regulations. We have our own in-house reimbursement department with a combined 30 years of medical billing and reimbursement experience. This department is overseen by our VP of Clinical Operations, who is also an Advance Practice Nurse. Our reimbursement team is continually navigating this ever-changing world of insurance and staying up-to-date on the various policy changes.
Your Aeromedical Case Manager is available to gather pertinent medical information, demographic information, the reason for the transport, and the associated benefit information. The AeroCare Case Manager will immediately contact the reimbursement team, present the combined medical and insurance information, and check the policy and associated allowances or restrictions for air ambulance travel. Typically, we can have an idea if insurance will cover the trip or if the policy has any air benefits within in minutes. In some instances, we will need to preauthorize the request for flight and attempt to work with the insurance carrier to cover medical travel.
What If Insurance Won’t Cover Anything, How Can I afford This?
All of the Aeromedical Case Managers at AeroCare will do everything they can to make sure we have a solid, feasible plan to help you move a loved one. If an air ambulance is not financially an option, the Case Manager will discuss the possibility of a commercial medical escort which uses our medical team on domestic or international commercial flights. Commercial Medical Escorts are a great, comfortable direct route to safely transport a patient when they would otherwise not be able to travel alone, due to illness, confusion, pain management or need for supplemental oxygen. To determine if this is a possibility, we would get recent medical information, as well as an ability assessment on the patient’s activities of daily living. From there, your Case Manager will present to our Medical Control department for review. Once approved, we may have additional commercial airline associated paperwork to file that is required by the airline carrier. When planning for medical escorts, we always look for the most direct flight path, in business or first class, for patient comfort and privacy.
We have other options for reducing costs associated with private medical jet travel. For example, we often have a planned trip going from Florida to the New York metro area, if a client had a need to move a loved one from the Northeast anywhere on the east coast or back down to Florida, where we have an aircraft and base, we would be able to offer a reduced price on the return portion of the trip. The same is true if we had what we term an “empty leg or backhaul/front-haul”. These reduced cost flights are an excellent option for a client who has open availability and can be ready to fly on a moment’s notice.
In conclusion, we always tell our clients “Advice is always free”. The Aeromedical Case Managers sole purpose is to help guide you the best route to accomplish getting your loved one or friend safely to desired destinations. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond to assist and guide you on the best option to do so. Please look out for our next post on how to spot a broker, and why you should avoid them.