Nov 8, 2019

Air ambulance prices more than doubled between 2008 and 2017

Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images

Air ambulances' use declined between 2008 and 2017 among people with employer coverage, but the average price of a trip more than doubled, according to new data from the Health Care Cost Institute, which is funded by insurers.

Why it matters: Air ambulances are a frequent source of surprise medical bills, and often aren't covered by private insurance. These bills can be for eye-popping amounts.

Details: There are 2 types of air ambulances, airplanes and helicopters. The use of helicopter ambulances declined by 14.3%, while the use of airplanes stayed about the same.

  • The average price of a helicopter ride increased from $11,414 in 2008 to $27,894 in 2017, or 144%. The price of a plane ride rose from from $15,684 to $41,674, or 166%.
  • However, prices varied widely.

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Physician staffing firm has sued thousands of Tennessee patients for medical debt

Memphis skyline. Photo: Visions of America/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

An emergency room staffing firm owned by TeamHealth has filed thousands of lawsuits against patients in Memphis in the last few years, ProPublica and MLK50 report.

Why it matters ... This is a collision of two storylines: the aggressive billing practices of private equity-backed health care companies, and providers' decision to take patients to court to collect their medical debts.

Go deeperArrowDec 2, 2019

Getting patients to price shop is hard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration argues its new price transparency rules will help patients shop for cheaper care and encourage insurers to make such shopping attractive.

Yes, but: Research shows most patients don't shop for care, even when tools exist to make it easier.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019

The White House is unhappy with private equity's surprise medical billing ads

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The White House hasn't weighed in on how to resolve the debate over surprise medical bills, but Joe Grogan, head of the Domestic Policy Council, had some choice words about ads being run by private equity-backed groups:

What they're saying: "The advertisements that are targeting members on this and are being run by the private equity groups who are using the arbitrage on surprise medical billing should make every American and member want to puke," Grogan told Axios.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019