Life-Saving Air Ambulance Rides Often Come With Life-Altering Bills. Can Congress Do Anything To Help?
Currently the air ambulance rides fall into a "regulatory blindspot" that leaves patients unprotected for bills ranging up to nearly $100,000. But with Congress working to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, lawmakers have tucked some provisions into the legislation that experts say might be a step in the right direction.
FAA Budget Bill Could Bring Changes To Air Ambulance Business
Air ambulance rides can be lifesavers. But how much should they cost? In the ongoing, crowdsourced "Bill of the Month" investigation, NPR and Kaiser Health News have received more than a dozen bills from people around the country on the hook for medevac helicopter rides that ranged from $28,000 to $97,000.What gives? Why should a lifesaving flight come with a life-altering bill? (Fortier, 9/26)
Kaiser Health News:
Bill Of The Month: Emergency Air Ambulance Ride Leaves Injured Doctor With $56,603 Bill
It was the first — and only — time Dr. Naveed Khan, a 35-year-old radiologist, ever rode in an all-terrain vehicle. Khan took the wheel from his friend and drove circles in the sand, on a trail along the Red River in Texas. “As soon as I turned to the side where my body weight was, this two-seater vehicle … just tilted toward the side and toppled,” Khan recalled. It landed on his left arm. (Kodjak, 9/26)
In other news on health care costs —
UnitedHealth, Envision Dispute Over Surprise ER Bills Heats Up
The dispute between UnitedHealth Group and staffing firm Envision Healthcare is heating up again. UnitedHealth sent a letter to more than 700 hospitals stating Envision will likely be out of network starting next year because of its emergency department billing practices, the insurer said Tuesday. UnitedHealth blamed Nashville-based Envision for an impasse in contract negotiations, claiming the staffing firm demands to be paid much more than Medicare pays for the same services. Envision's practices, UnitedHealth argued, are a major reason for the high cost of ED visits. (Livingston, 9/25)
Rep. Ed Perlmutter Backs Bill To Defer Student Loan Payments For Cancer Patients
A Colorado congressman is backing a bill that, if approved, would pause student loan payments for patients while they receive cancer treatments. The bill, supported by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, is part of an appropriations package the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on — and approve — Wednesday. The bill has already passed the Senate. (Seaman, 9/25)
Kaiser Health News:
Putting Oversized Health Care Costs Upfront — On T-Shirts
If only patients knew how expensive medical procedures are and how wildly prices vary by hospital, they could be smart shoppers and lower the cost of health care for everybody. At least that’s what policy experts and health insurers keep saying as they promote “consumer-directed” health care and cost-comparison websites.None of it has had much effect. Now, exasperated Maryland officials are presenting hospital cost information in a way they believe Americans might understand: on a T-shirt. (Hancock, 9/26)