Air ambulances create memberships for patients
Photo: Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Air ambulance companies are selling memberships as assurance that if a patient needs their services, they won't get slammed with massive bills. But these subscription services have drawn national skepticism, Kaiser Health News reports.
Between the lines: Air ambulances often aren't covered by private insurance, and they're becoming more expensive at the same time that they're becoming more necessary in rural areas without access to emergency care.
- They're one solution to rural hospital closures that leave patients stranded, and they portray themselves as a safety net for the people who live in these communities.
Yes, but: Some state regulators say the membership services aren't as helpful as they're advertised to be, and one of the nation's largest air ambulance providers has decided against offering them.
- The air ambulance that responds to an emergency call may not be the one that that patient has a membership with.
- Patients who sign up for memberships would still get billed and then have to work through their insurance to handle it, often a frustrating and time-consuming process.
- Air ambulance companies aren't officially insurance, so they can end the membership at any time without notifying the patient — which could be an unpleasant surprise following an emergency.
Go deeper: How air ambulances got so expensive