FAQs

Air Methods/Industry Structure

Why Emergency Air Medicine Matters

  • Each year, more than half a million critically injured or ill patients rely on emergency air medicine for lifesaving care. Without that service, these patients may face an imminent threat to their lives.
  • When every minute counts, emergency air medical transport and treatment is often not just the best choice for saving a life, it’s the only choice.
  • In rural communities, emergency air medical transport and treatment is often the only access to lifesaving emergency care.
  • Air Methods’ service provides access for 85 million people – one in every four Americans – who otherwise would not have been able to reach a trauma center within an hour.
  • Without our emergency air medical transport and treatment partners, access to lifesaving care at our hospital emergency room is severely limited. Air Methods works seamlessly with hospitals as a critical piece of the emergency care continuum that saves lives.

Q: What is an air ambulance?
A:Air ambulance is a critical part of quality emergency medicine, which begins at the scene of the accident or the moment a life is at risk. When air ambulance companies are called, they know each patient may face a potential threat to life. Without emergency air medical transport and treatment, access to lifesaving care at the hospital ER is severely limited. In fact, 30% of the US population relies on air medical transport for access to tertiary care, trauma, cardiac, stroke, burn, and neonatal centers within the “golden hour”, the first hour after the occurrence of a traumatic injury, considered the critical window for treatment and recovery.

Q: Who is Air Methods?
A:
Air Methods is the country’s leading air ambulance provider. We provide emergency medical care and deliver patients to hospital partners, like the one where you received care. Air Methods includes several air ambulance companies operating under our umbrella such as the one that transported you.

Q: Why am I receiving a bill from [Air Methods, Rocky Mountain Holdings, etc.] if I was transported by an air ambulance with a different name?
A:
Air Methods provides lifesaving emergency care across the United States. Much like how a grocery store might be known as a different name in different regions, Air Methods operates under a variety of company names across the country. This combines the benefits of a local operation with the resources of a national company, so all of our patients across the United States can know they’re receiving the best emergency transportation and care available. 

Q: Why am I getting separate bills from the Air Methods and the hospital?
A:
Rather than have their own helicopters, hospitals partner with Air Methods to provide air ambulance services. Because Air Methods is not part of the hospital and operates as a separate entity, you get a separate bill.


Partnership with Payers

Insurance Coverage and Emergency Air Medical Care
  • Emergency air medical transport and treatmentis among the many crucial medical services where health plans are seeking to limit or cut payments.
  • The main purpose of health insurance is to protect patients like you in emergency situations like the one you faced.  But increasingly, insurance companies paying less and less of their members’ medical costs.  This means patients are left to pay for care that the health insurance company should be paying. It is our commitment and intent to work side-by-side with insurers, healthcare providers, and patients to create a system that works for everyone.
  • When it comes to attaining payment for their service, Air Methods works with insurance companies to ensure adequate coverage for their members. When adequate coverage is not provided, we are required by law to pursue uncollected balances to help cover the cost. In these situations, we work very closely with patients to minimize their out-of-pocket expenses. 
  • If patients do not have insurance, please know that there may be other available sources of financial assistance available. Air Methods has a long-standing charity care program and is committed to working with patients based on their individual financial circumstances.

Q: Why isn’t my insurance company covering the cost of this bill?
A: Recently, insurance companies are paying less and less of their members’ medical costs. We don't know why some insurers do not cover the cost of the service and all Insurers are different. One of the main purposes of health insurance is to provide emergency care in unexpected situations and we believe your insurer should cover these costs. Unfortunately, when they do not, patients like you are left to pay for care that the health insurance company should be paying. It is our commitment and intent to work side-by-side with Insurers, healthcare providers, and patients to create a system that works for everyone.


Overall Cost

What goes into Emergency Air Medical Costs

  • Like a fire station, Air Methods’ fleet and highly trained clinicians are always ready to deploy every moment of every day, whether there is an emergency or not.
  • Real-time deployment readiness requires enormous financial resources and ongoing investment. Aircraft, equipment, highly specialized staff - both clinical and aviation - and ongoing training are only part of the equation.
  • When Air Methods is asked to save a life, they deploy without regard to a patient’s ability to pay. That means sometimes they don’t receive payment for their services, and payments for Medicare or Medicaid patients don’t come close to covering the actual cost for providing their service.
  • While they seek every efficiency and innovation to keep costs down, 80% of their costs for operating an air medical base are fixed, meaning they incur those costs just by staying ready at all times.

Q: I didn’t ask to be brought to the hospital in a helicopter, so why should I have to pay this bill?
A: First of all, I am very sorry for what you have been through and I understand your concern. However, Air Methods responds to every call we receive because a medical professional such as a physician or first responders have deemed the severity of the situation to be serious enough that air transportation is required in order to get the patient the care they need in the shortest amount of time. Air Methods does not choose when a patient is brought to the hospital by helicopter, but relies on these professionals to determine when air transport is necessary. While I don’t know your individual situation, I can tell you that the air ambulance is only called when it is deemed critical to your health. Often, an air ambulance is the only way to bring an emergency case to tertiary care, trauma, cardiac, stroke, burn, and neonatal centers within the “golden hour”, the first hour after the occurrence of a traumatic injury, considered the critical window for treatment and recovery.

Q: Why is my bill so high?
A:
At Air Methods, we take every step possible to make sure we are exploring every payment option on behalf of the patient – whether that’s health insurance, car insurance or other sources. Yet, when insurance companies only pay part of the bill, Air Methods is required by law to bill the patients for the rest. If insurance companies paid fairly, patients could pay very little or nothing at all.

Like a fire station, Air Methods’ helicopters and highly trained pilots and healthcare providers are always ready to deploy every moment of every day, whether there is an emergency or not. This requires enormous financial resources and ongoing investment in aircraft, equipment, staff and ongoing training.

When we are asked to save a life, we deploy without regard to a patient’s ability to pay. That means sometimes we don’t receive payment for our services, and payments for Medicare or Medicaid patients don’t come close to covering the actual cost for providing our service. While we seek every efficiency and innovation to keep costs down, 85% of our costs for operating an air medical base are fixed, meaning we face those costs just by staying ready at all times.


Billing Process

  • When it comes to attaining payment for their service, Air Methods works with insurance companies to ensure adequate coverage for their members.
  • The Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, form you received at discharge allows Air Methods to work with any of your insurance companies that may be able to help pay for your health care. This could include: health insurance, auto insurance, worker’s compensation or homeowner’s insurance.
  • Air Methods is required by law to bill patients for any amount their insurance doesn’t pay. This is why it’s so important that insurance companies pay Air Methods fairly for their critical emergency care. In these situations, we work very closely with patients to minimize their out-of-pocket expense endients to increase the eimbuo work very closely wins that would not have access to care during the critical Golden Hour.. 
  • If you do not have insurance, please know what there may be other sources of financial assistance available to you. Air Methods has a long-standing charity care program and is committed to working with patients based on their individual financial circumstances.

Q: What is an Assignment of Benefits or AOB?
A: The Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, form allows Air Methods to work with any of your insurance companies that may be able to help pay for your health care. This could include: health insurance, auto insurance, worker’s compensation or homeowner’s insurance.

Q: Which insurance should I provide?
A: You may have several insurance companies that may be able to pay part of your claim, including:

  • Private health insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Medicaid/Medicare

Let’s take a look at your situation.

Q: What if I don’t have insurance or can’t afford this bill?
A: If you do not have insurance or can’t afford this bill, please know that there may be other available sources of financial assistance available to you. Air Methods has a long-standing charity care program and is committed to working with you based on your individual financial circumstances. We can connect you with our Patient Financial Counselors, who will walk through your options with you based on your situation.