Sometime in the next year, an air ambulance service could save your client’s life.
An out-of-network air ambulance service could also saddle clients who lack the right kind of medical evacuation benefits with the mother of all out-of-pocket health care services bills.
The Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association says many fully insured patients in North Dakota, a state that looked into the issue, ended up with high out-of-pocket costs even though the patients’ plans paid an average of $17,000 per air ambulance transport.
State insurance regulators talked about the air ambulance services balance billing problem this summer in San Diego, at a meeting of the Kansas City, Missouri-based National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Critics and defenders of the services gave their perspectives on the conflict in meeting presentation slidedecks.
Now the staff of the NAIC’s Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee has given its version of what the regulators heard in draft meeting minutes.
For highlights from the staff’s account, read on:
Critics say a federal law encourages abuse
Jeff Frazier of Sentinel Air Medical Alliance, a web-based air ambulance services cost control organization, told regulators that service costs have skyrocketed partly because providers have flooded the market.
Because too many providers are serving too many patients, the average level of fixed costs per provider is too high, Frazier said.
Another, major problem is that the federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 blocks states from doing anything to regulate air ambulance services costs, Frazier said.