Mar 21, 2019

Air ambulances are expensive and most likely out of network

Illustration: Aïda Aimer/Axios

If you ever find yourself in a helicopter on the way to the hospital, chances are you’re in for a very big bill.

By the numbers: The average cost for an air ambulance is over $36,000, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

  • And a whopping 69% of the emergency transports GAO studied were outside of patients' insurance networks, meaning the patients who received those transports were at a higher risk of being billed for the bulk of the trip themselves.

Context: GAO didn't collect information specifically on how many airlifted patients received such bills. Of the patient complaints it did review, though, all but one were for more than $10,000.

  • Non-flying ambulances aren't a ton better: The GAO report cites a study that says 51% of all four-wheeled ambulance trips are also out-of-network.

My thought bubble ... You may be sick of hearing me say this by now, but it's true: Health care is not a competitive market, and the more you need it, the less competitive it is. If you need an ambulance, you're in no position to be a smart shopper about ambulance rides.

Go deeper: More people are taking Ubers over ambulances to the hospital

Go deeper

The cracks in Trump’s GOP shield

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump’s mockery of coronavirus masks, his false claims about the dangers of voting by mail and his insinuations that a cable TV nemesis was involved in a murder are testing more high-profile Republicans' willingness to look the other way.

The big picture: Republicans learned a long time ago how dangerous it is to alienate Trump’s base — which is why any hint of disagreement, even a whisper, is so remarkable when it happens.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between law enforcement and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.