Health & Medical Medicine

Air Ambulance

It is not a pleasant thought but the reality is that medical emergencies can happen to you anywhere at anytime.  While it is easy to be prepared when you're in a city or town, you really can't pick and choose your location during a medical emergency or accident.  You can be on a vacation, on a cruise ship, on a road trip, on a hiking trip, or overseas when a medical emergency strikes.  What is important is that you are aware of you medical insurance coverage's provisions for emergency medical transport since the distance between your physical location and the nearest qualified hospital can make a life or death difference.  

The most common method of emergency medical evacuation is the ambulance—an adapted/upgraded van.  However, ambulances are often limited in their range and availability.  There are many ambulances in cities and towns but they are often not practical for medical emergencies in high traffic areas—you can be suffering from a heart attack and die inside the ambulance while stuck in traffic.  Similarly, normal ambulances are of limited help during medical emergencies in isolated or remote areas like skiing accidents, hiking accidents, or remote rural urgent care situations.  Luckily, for all these situations, there is one form of very effective emergency medical evacuation that can reach you swiftly and take you where you can get the medical care you need—the air ambulance.

More than just a souped up helicopter, the air ambulance is fast becoming indispensable in contemporary emergency rescue situations.  While it's common to see air ambulances in action on TV news stories involving mountain rescues or remote accidents, air ambulances frequently see action ferrying heart attack patients to hospital rooftops or ferrying organs for transplants.  They are fast becoming indispensible in the field of medical trauma care since every second counts!

Unfortunately, not all health insurance plans cover air ambulance support.  Now is a good time to check your health insurance coverage to see to what extent, if any, you qualify for emergency air assistance.

Here is how you can check:

Under provided coverage, look for language regarding medical transport.  Many policies limit what kind of ambulance service they will pay for.  For instance, many insurance policies cover only a certain dollar amount for medical transport.  The excess is paid for by the policy holder out of pocket.  Other insurance policies require only a certain type of ambulance service.  For example, if the local fire department's emergency response team brings you to the hospital and performs emergency medical services, you may be required to pay them first then make a claim on your policy—subject to a reimbursement ceiling.  Other insurance companies require advanced clearance before they can reimburse a hospital for using an air ambulance to transport you for medical services.  

Typical limits:

Look for these typical limit types—location, hospital versus third party, and extent of emergency aid provided.  Normally, there are limits as to which situations your insurance company will deem air ambulance services to be reasonably warranted.  This is understandable since air ambulance services can be quite expensive.  While the list of contingencies and conditions that a hospital administrator has to meet may be too long to list here—they all boil down to applicability and reasonableness.  If there are no other options for medical evacuation, opting for an air ambulance evacuation has a high chance of approval.  Each situation is different and must be weighed against other transport options and how heavy the medical emergency is.  

Make sure to take time to check your health coverage and contact your healthcare provider's subscriber assistance department because your life might be in the balance if your provider decides to forgo air ambulance services when you need it the most.

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