14 votes

Taken For A Ride: M.D. Injured In ATV Crash Gets $56,603 Bill For Air Ambulance Trip

16 comments

  1. [14]
    Pilgrim Link
    Highlights:

    Highlights:

    Flown 108 miles to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, the closest Level I trauma center, Khan was whisked into surgery to clean out the wound, repair his shattered bones and get blood flowing to the tissue.

    He had a total of eight operations to try to save his left forearm before he finally gave up. After weeks in the hospital, he asked the doctors to amputate, so he could get on with his life.

    And then the bill came.

    Total bill: $56,603 for an air ambulance flight. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Khan's insurer, paid $11,972, after initially refusing altogether; the medevac company billed Khan for the remaining $44,631.

    A spokeswoman for Air Evac Lifeteam said the company bills people so much because it is trying to make up for what she said are meager payments from Medicare and Medicaid.

    "Our real cost per flight is the $10,200 plus the unreimbursed cost on each flight for Medicare, Medicaid and patients without any coverage," wrote Shelly Schneider, the company spokeswoman.

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it pays an average of $4,624 per ride, plus $31.67 a mile, which works out to an average Medicare reimbursement of $6,556 for helicopter ambulance rides for seniors. Medicaid in most states pays less.

    Khan, who has had to fight with his insurance company to get coverage for a prosthetic arm, is frustrated when he learns that the air ambulance company expects him to pay far more than the actual cost of his flight.

    "It's unfair," he says. "It's random; it's arbitrary. It's whatever price they want to set. And to put that onto a person who's already been through what I've been through, I hate to say it, but it's cruel."

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      Diff (edited ) Link Parent
      I see it a lot, people saying American health care needs change. And clearly this is ridiculous but how do we actually get change happening?

      I see it a lot, people saying American health care needs change. And clearly this is ridiculous but how do we actually get change happening?

      7 votes
      1. [4]
        Pilgrim Link Parent
        Vote. For the love of god go out and vote.

        Vote. For the love of god go out and vote.

        8 votes
        1. Diet_Coke Link Parent
          Vote in primaries too, your vote carries so much more weight. And demonstrate in the streets when necessary. Every major advance from labor rights to civil rights has been won in the streets.

          Vote in primaries too, your vote carries so much more weight.

          And demonstrate in the streets when necessary. Every major advance from labor rights to civil rights has been won in the streets.

          9 votes
        2. [2]
          Diff Link Parent
          Vote how? None of the candidates in my area seem to care about this particular issue.

          Vote how? None of the candidates in my area seem to care about this particular issue.

          2 votes
          1. Pilgrim Link Parent
            Then for sure vote against them. Tell your friends what you're doing and why. Join a group in your area interested in helping. Go register people to vote. Get out, get moving, talk to your...

            Then for sure vote against them. Tell your friends what you're doing and why. Join a group in your area interested in helping. Go register people to vote. Get out, get moving, talk to your neighbors :)

    2. [4]
      Gaywallet Link Parent
      I'm surprised he's not already familiar with the why when it comes to hospital pricing.

      "It's unfair," he says. "It's random; it's arbitrary. It's whatever price they want to set. And to put that onto a person who's already been through what I've been through, I hate to say it, but it's cruel."

      I'm surprised he's not already familiar with the why when it comes to hospital pricing.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        Pilgrim Link Parent
        My personal experience is that doctors have little insight into billing and are often surprised when you explain to them what the medication they're prescribing is going to cost you. I've heard...

        My personal experience is that doctors have little insight into billing and are often surprised when you explain to them what the medication they're prescribing is going to cost you. I've heard things like "How can an asthma inhaler cost $300, that's crazy?" So it doesn't surprise me.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          Gaywallet Link Parent
          Interesting, I've never run into this and I've been in healthcare for almost a decade

          Interesting, I've never run into this and I've been in healthcare for almost a decade

          1 vote
          1. Catt Link Parent
            I have, but I find it really depends on the doctor. My family doctor is really good and usually checks my drug coverage when prescribing meds. I've had walk-in doctors that've just prescribed...

            I have, but I find it really depends on the doctor. My family doctor is really good and usually checks my drug coverage when prescribing meds. I've had walk-in doctors that've just prescribed non-generic drugs that are way more expensive without substitutions allowed. Usually I just ask them to change it and it's almost always fine, so I get the impression they're just use to writing out the "brand name" drugs.

            1 vote
    3. [3]
      RapidEyeMovement Link Parent
      I work in this industry and that is about what I expect the bill to be. You have team of 3 people, all highly trained. A helicopter pilot, A Registered Nurse, A Paramedic. They take a specialized...

      I work in this industry and that is about what I expect the bill to be.

      You have team of 3 people, all highly trained. A helicopter pilot, A Registered Nurse, A Paramedic. They take a specialized helicopter, that requires fuel and constant maintenance. The Helicopter is supplied with highly specialized equipment for most emergencies, or can be retro-fitted for special circumstances. (Neo-natal, etc,). This mobile hospital then flies to the patients locations, stabilizes them and then flies them to a hospital. These are unscheduled flights, the FAA requires that a Comm Center must stay in contact and track this team throughout the flight because these flights are more dangerous then normal as the Pilot is usually going to a location they have never been before. This is all done with time being of the essence, because of an idea in medicine called Golden Hour

      I am not saying it is right, to charge these prices, but about industry average. Also I cannot argue the morality of charging for the preservation of life.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Pilgrim Link Parent
        In the article they're clear about their actual cost being ~$10K/flight but they have to make up for the low amount provided by medicare and for people without insurance.

        In the article they're clear about their actual cost being ~$10K/flight but they have to make up for the low amount provided by medicare and for people without insurance.

        5 votes
        1. RapidEyeMovement Link Parent
          My comment is trying to give color to those numbers. But some back of the napkin numbers assuming at 60-40 split between medicare patients and general populace, they would need to be charging...

          My comment is trying to give color to those numbers.

          But some back of the napkin numbers assuming at 60-40 split between medicare patients and general populace, they would need to be charging $17,600, per transport to break even.

          1 vote
    4. nsz Link Parent
      I know two girls that got helicoptered off a mountain after they got lost and where in a dangerous situation, they where literally just dropped off in a field with a card that says like us on...

      I know two girls that got helicoptered off a mountain after they got lost and where in a dangerous situation, they where literally just dropped off in a field with a card that says like us on Facebook, didn't even ask their last names. No bill, nothing, maybe the French are doing something right? idk.

      1 vote
  2. [2]
    Rocket_Man Link
    Everything about insurance seems to be broken. There are half solutions to things out there like https://www.airmedcarenetwork.com but they only cover the cost if you end up using one of their air...

    Everything about insurance seems to be broken. There are half solutions to things out there like https://www.airmedcarenetwork.com but they only cover the cost if you end up using one of their air ambulances.

    1 vote
    1. Pilgrim Link Parent
      It's almost like some sort of insurance for everyone is in order...some sort of national system...

      It's almost like some sort of insurance for everyone is in order...some sort of national system...

      3 votes