Investigation of For-Profit Air Ambulance Services

An ABC News investigation has found numerous cases of for-profit emergency medevac flight companies charging privately insured patients $40,000-$50,000 for short emergency helicopter rides. The ambulance companies say the high charges offset balances they can’t collect on poor and uninsured patients. The news organization began the investigation after its consumer website, The ABC News Fixer, received several letters complaining about the emergency flight charges. In one case, a woman wrote that her boyfriend was charged nearly $55,000 for a half-hour flight following a stroke and his insurance would not pay it, saying the flight was not medically necessary; the insurance company later reversed that decision.

However, in hundreds of other cases around the country, insurance companies have paid only a small percentage of the charges, leaving patients to face debt collectors or lawsuits, according to the investigation. What can consumers do? One recommendation is to consider whether the flight is medically necessary or if emergency ground transportation can be used.

The full report is available here:

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