‘Financially Devastating’ Air Ambulance Rides Can Both Save Lives And Ruin Them
Courts have ruled air ambulances can charge anything they want, and many patients are getting stuck with sky-high bills. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers signed aggressive legislation into law that was meant to protect the state's residents from surprise medical bills, but millions remain unprotected.
WEWS News 5 (Cleveland, Ohio):
It Can Happen To Anyone Of Us, An Air Ambulance Ride Costing $53,000
Last August, Paul and Julie [Hleba] were coming back from a 4,300-mile motorcycle ride when, in New York, the back tire blew out. Paul was driving and Julie was on the back. They were thrown. ... Paul had a broken scapula, three broken ribs, and a lacerated spleen. A ground ambulance took him to a nearby hospital. ... Paul told us doctors wanted to transfer him as a precaution to another one of their hospitals. "I wasn't given the choice of taking a helicopter ride," said Paul .... "I never thought something like this would happen to us,” said Julie, who was talking not only about the accident, but about the $53,000 bill they received from the helicopter company Air Methods. Insurance paid roughly $15,000. (Walsh, 8/15)
Millions Of Texans Vulnerable To Surprise Medical Bills Despite Legislative Efforts
Millions of Texans will remain unprotected from surprise medical bills despite state lawmakers this year passing one of the nation’s most aggressive pieces of legislation to curb such bills. Senate Bill 1264, signed into law in June and effective Jan. 1, stops patients from being blindsided by exorbitant medical bills for emergency services, services provided at in-network hospitals and other facilities, and for lab work. But the new state law only protects about a third of the 14 million Texans who are vulnerable to surprise medical bills because it only applies to those who have insurance regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance — usually teachers, state employees, those who work for small businesses and individuals who buy their own insurance. (Chang, 8/19)
And in more news —
Kaiser Health News:
A Brush With A Notorious Cat, My Rabies Education And The Big Bill That Followed
I was just petting an orange tabby cat in my Falls Church, Va., neighborhood, a cat I’d never met before. He was very cute. And he was purring and butting his head against my hand. Until he wasn’t. He sunk his teeth into my wrist, hissed at me and ran off. So began my personal episode of Law & Order: Feline Victims Unit, complete with cat mug shots and weekly check-ins from local animal control and public health officials. And rabies shots. Multiple rabies shots in the emergency room. And more than $26,000 in health care costs, an alarming amount considering I was perfectly healthy throughout the whole ordeal. (Hillyard, 8/20)
In case you missed it: Make sure to check out KHN's special "Bill of the Month" series on surprisingly high medical bills.