When air ambulance services offer to transport patients from one city to another farther away, it is because the patient needs more critical care than what the local hospital can provide. If you are told that you may need the services of an air ambulance, you may have several questions. Here are some of the more common ones, and their answers.
How Fast Can an Air Ambulance Fly?
An air ambulance, which is typically a small jet plane, can go significantly faster than an ambulance at top legal speed on the ground. If you have to travel to the nearest burn trauma unit at another hospital three hundred miles away, it would take an ambulance at full tilt six-plus hours to get you there. In the air ambulance, it would only take around an hour, and you would be in less pain because you would not experience all of the bumps and swerves in the road.
What Does an Air Ambulance Cost?
The price for a one-way trip on an air ambulance varies by company and by distance. It can be as "little" as $2,000 without insurance for a very short trip (remember, this is a plane that is also a medical transport) to as much as $200,000 or more for an international flight. That is a jaw-dropping sum, but when you take into consideration the probability of death if you do not get to the other hospital for better care, it is a drop in the bucket.
Why Does the Air Ambulance Cost So Much?
This is a simple answer if you think it through. One, this is a twin-engine jet plane that requires jet fuel to run, and you are essentially its only passenger. Two, the nurses and EMTs on board have to be paid for the trip and for services rendered in keeping you comfortable, conscious and in as little pain as possible. Three, you have to pay the pilot(s) to fly the plane, because the EMTs and nurses typically are not licensed to do so.
Who Pays for the Air Ambulance?
This is a bit of a sticking point with most insurance providers. The hospital you are presently at would have to contact the insurance company to request permission to transport you by air to save your life. If a response is not given within a critical time period, the hospital may pay for your trip, and then bill the insurance company anyway. If the insurance company refuses, then the hospital would have to bill you. However, you could always take the matter to court against your insurance company, since it was clearly a life or death matter and the insurance company should have agreed to it.