#air ambulance cost #Medicare Retweet

Over the past couple of decades we have all become aware of the escalating costs of healthcare.   One that has come to surprise those who live in a rural area who have suffered an unexpected injury and are far from definitive care.   As helicopter services have boomed to cash in on Medicare and insurance payment, an unsuspecting public has been caught unaware. While an insurance may pay for actual medical treatment delivered in a hospital, it more than likely will not pay for the actual transport of the injured. These costs can be exorbitant and leave a family financially devastated as companies attempt to collect for service. Shockingly, some have received bills for $50,000 or more.

Medical helicopter service has indisputably saved lives, and in some instances have been totally inappropriate when an ambulance could have served the needs of the injured. Some patients transferred by helicopter have been discharged from the ER.   When the life of a family member may be at risk, one does not think of the costs involved; they simply act then later learn their insurance will not pay.

Air Methods, the largest air ambulance operator, with over $1 billion in revenue is promoting legislation that was introduced in the House of Representative in February. This would increase Medicare payments to air ambulance companies. The assertion is that higher payouts are needed to keep up with costs and cause air ambulance services to have to abandon certain areas.   Chief executive of the association asserts, “The reason this bill needs to pass is that it’s about access to health care. A strategy for air ambulance companies is to expand their network and add expensive new helicopters.

One of the effects of proliferation of helicopters is that it has created cutthroat completion as helicopters are chasing too few patients. This country simply does not need 850 air ambulances in large metropolitan areas perched on roof tops where they are inappropriately placed.   Nonprofit air ambulance operator make up a large portion of the industry are finding it harder to survive as they charge less than their large commercial rivals..

Given the escalating number of helicopter crashes that have claimed the lives of both crew and patients, it doesn’t look like the economics in this industry are favorable.  Passing legislation to have Medicare foot the bill is definitely an area that must be considered very carefully if at all.   This is an industry that needs to look at how it functions and focus on safety. Lawsuits can become expensive as others become more aware of the dynamics of the industry and seek to challenge it.

 

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#Japan earthquake #helicopter rescue

Today, we’ve all been alerted to the devastation in Japan as the result of a 7.3 earthquake. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest tests Japanese rescue workers and those involved in helicopter as 41 people have been killed by two earthquakes and many are missing or trapped in a mountainous area. U.S. forces are offering emergency assistance. Notably, the U.S. has major military bases in Japan that can help.  USA Today just hours ago posted images of the devastation. It is estimated some 1500 are injured and many are presumably trapped in collapsed homes and building. The national government is said to have dispatched 20,000 troops —- many who are especially trained for these kind of rescue efforts.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/17/japan-earthquakes/831

#emergency medical system

 

Today, most people look up and see a helicopter in the sky, but have little or no understanding of all the components that make up the medical emergency system. In truth, the helicopter service is only as good as the support services that back it up; this is true in the community as well as in the hospital. There simply is not much point to having a flight program without developing expertise at all levels. Once a patient is brought back to the hospital, every service must work in concert all the way from supplies, housekeeping, dietary, dispatch, pilots, nurses, and medical specialists to meet all the needs of the patient. All services have to be provided 24 hours a day whether or not a medical emergency is in process. Maintaining these services is very costly simply because life threatening circumstances, by their very nature, are unpredictable. It simply costs more to intervene and save a life than it does to respond to routine matters of medical care.

The helicopter is only one aspect of the EMS system. No one must ever make little of the ground network of paramedics and emergency technicians, and firemen who are usually first on scene. It is their job to quickly assess the gravity of the situation, make critical decisions and do all that they can to preserve a viable patient. Ironically, the public’s first line of defense in a life threatening crisis is often a volunteer or a poorly paid ambulance employee. Fortunately, for those in need, these people are not in the business of saving lives for money. They are usually self-motivated, want to help others, or require a high degree of stimulation, and challenge to make them feel a vital part of being alive.