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Transported via air ambulance? Expect surprise medical bills

On Behalf of | May 6, 2020 | Insurance Law |

When a person’s condition is dire, an ambulance ride sometimes is not enough. Air ambulances are essential in these types of life or death situations. But when being transported to a hospital via helicopter, patients or family members probably do not anticipate the cost of saving someone’s life. Surprise medical bills for these rides can land some Washington patients several tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

The biggest indicator that someone will receive a bill for an air ambulance ride is if the ambulance itself is not in his or her insurance network. However, when every second counts, those in desperate need of medical care are not really in the position to ask whether a helicopter ride will be covered. One study shows that around 72% of people who are transported in an air ambulance end up with surprise bills for the ride. Since the rides are not covered, ambulance providers can generally charge whatever they choose. Some of those charges are as high as $20,000.

The problem is not limited to air travel, though. Of those who are transported in more traditional ground ambulances, 79% can expect surprise medical bills for the ride. These surprise bills average about $550.

There is no time to lose when someone is experiencing a traumatic medical event, and people in Washington should be able to rely on their insurance companies to cover the costs. Unfortunately, insurance companies often deny reasonable claims, leaving policyholders with surprise medical bills for which they might not actually be responsible. Digging through complicated legal jargon can be confusing though, so it may be helpful to speak with an experienced attorney when appealing a denied claim.