At Air Methods, we have made it our mission to identify more effective ways to keep patients out of the middle of the billing process. We eliminated our membership program back in 2019, focused our efforts on reaching in-network agreements with insurance companies, and developed a robust Patient Advocacy program that provides the assistance patients need after a transport so they can focus on their recovery rather than bills.

For many years, emergency air medical companies have sold memberships to patients who rely on their services to access critical healthcare during emergencies. This subscription model was created to serve as an alternative to insurance, covering members for the cost of an air ambulance flight when a payer denied reimbursement for the transport. But, in today’s healthcare world, this model is outdated, and it is time to move forward.

As patient billing becomes a top-of-mind issue in 2021, we have not wavered in our commitment to this model that is reducing out-of-pocket costs for our patients, which is now less than $200 including copays and deductibles.

Becker’s Hospital Review recently published an article by our CEO, JaeLynn Williams, calling on the air medical industry to evolve past patient memberships.

Here are some highlights:

A membership is not a prerequisite for care, and it doesn’t replace insurance. That begs the question, is there really a need for them at all? The answer, in short, is no. Air medical services are provided in life-threatening situations when time is of the essence, and there is no time to “schedule” or “wait” for a transport.

We encourage all air medical services that offer membership programs to end them, refund Medicare enrollees who never needed them, and adopt more effective practices.

Over the last four years, Air Methods has deployed multiple strategies to make billing as transparent and simple as possible for our patients. Our guiding principle is to approach any billing concerns according to what is best for them. To accomplish that, we have aggressively pursued in-network agreements with any willing payer who will come to the table and negotiate with us. This has resulted in over 50 percent of our privately insured patients being covered by in-network agreements – up from just 5 percent only four years ago – with partners like Anthem, Humana, and most states’ Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.

Read the full article here.

In the last two years, proactive efforts to go in-network with insurers, and investments in a robust patient advocacy program, have led to low average out-of-pocket costs for Air Methods patients. With no air medical membership required, Air Methods is reaffirming its commitment to patients by refunding Medicare beneficiaries. 

(GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colorado, November 18, 2019) – Air Methods, the leading air medical service, announces that it has launched nationwide the “No Membership Required” initiative to allow patients to focus on recovery and not have to navigate the insurance and billing process alone. With this initiative, and based on the success of Air Methods’ Patient Advocacy program, its in-network growth strategy, and a Community Partnership Program, Air Methods discontinued selling its Air Methods Advantage membership program in April 2019. 

Air Methods announced that it is refunding any membership fees paid by Medicare beneficiaries who were members when the program ended in April.  

Medicare Part B beneficiaries are already covered for air medical services without a membership. Air Methods and its Patient Advocacy team works with beneficiaries to make sure their copays and deductibles are affordable. In 2018, the average out-of-pocket cost for Medicare patients transported by Air Methods was $280, including copays and deductibles. Air Methods will refund any membership fees paid by those members who were of Medicare age when the program ended in April 2019. The company will mail checks to those members within the next 60 days. 

Because all Medicare Part B beneficiaries are covered for air medical services regardless of the company that transports them, Air Methods is challenging other companies in the industry to do the same and refund membership payments made by Medicare beneficiaries.

Air medical services are provided in life-threatening situations where time is of the essence, and asking patients to remember which company they have a membership with to avoid a balance bill adds an unnecessary layer of stress to an already intense situation. 

Air Methods’ mission is to deliver safe and reliable critical care in the air 24/7/365, treat every patient with care, and help them navigate the often confusing insurance process. Air Methods will honor all existing memberships, but once a patient’s membership expires, it will not be renewed.

Increasing in-network agreements 
Memberships were created and sold in the past on the premise that it would help patients avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses related to the potential of needing air medical services. Today, Air Methods is taking a new approach to achieve this same goal: it is going in-network with a growing number of insurance providers to avoid balance bills. In-network coverage offers consumers a discounted, out-of-pocket payment for qualified services, which varies depending on their plan’s benefits. Staying in-network for healthcare services can help consumers avoid unexpected spending as well as balance billing, which is the practice of billing a patient for the difference between the plan’s reimbursement and the medical charges.

Air Methods now has 47 in-network agreements across the United States. Today, approximately 75 percent of Air Methods’ patients are covered for its services either through commercial insurance or through Medicare Part B or Medicaid, so patients will not receive a balance bill for services. Patients of these private insurance plans do not require a membership, and will only be responsible for their copayments and deductibles, if applicable by their plan. 

Air Methods will work with all patients to ensure a financially feasible outcome is reached so that no patient has to worry about their bill while recovering from an emergency.

“Air Methods understands how complicated and nuanced the healthcare system can be and how stressful balance billing situations are for patients and families when they need to focus on recovery,” said Steve Gorman, Air Methods’ CEO. “For that reason, we are committed to further helping patients by no longer requiring memberships. By focusing instead on in-network agreements with any and all health insurance carriers who will partner with us, we are dedicated to reducing the burden of balance billing on the patients who need our life-saving services. With 85 million Americans living more than an hour from the nearest Level-1 or Level-2 trauma center if driven by ambulance, we are committed to taking every step possible to ensure their access to that care.” 

Supporting patients with dedicated advocates 
Air Methods has a dedicated Patient Advocacy department, which provides patients with support and resources during the post-flight insurance billing process. 

With a dedicated team of patient advocates on staff, Air Methods’ goal is to alleviate any stress on patients and their families, so that patients’ recovery is the focus. Patient advocates work with patients to help navigate the health insurance maze. Whether Air Methods is in-network or out-of-network with a patient’s health plan, patient advocates help with insurance claims, including navigating the appeals process if the insurance company initially denies or underpays the claim. When a patient works with the Patient Advocacy team, they normally only pay their deductible or co-insurance. On average, for all patients, regardless of payer, the out-of-pocket costs for Air Methods’ services is only a couple hundred dollars.

Partnering with local governments
Air Methods actively partners with local government entities to ensure that local residents have access to life-saving air medical services without the worry of high out-of-pocket expenses. Through community partnerships, Air Methods works with local governments and assists with reviewing insurance claims received by county residents to ensure that they are aware of its Patient Advocacy services and financial assistance programs. 

Air Methods encourages local governments to save the money they would otherwise spend on upfront nonrefundable membership fees, and instead create a charitable fund for patients to assist with out-of-pocket medical expenses, allowing for any remaining dollars in that fund to roll over to the next year or be spent on other priorities as the locality sees fit.   

For more information about the No Membership Required campaign and details about the refund program, visit www.airmethods.com/nomembershiprequired.


About Air Methods
Air Methods is the leading air medical service, delivering lifesaving care to more than 70,000 people every year. With nearly 40 years of air medical experience, Air Methods is the preferred partner for hospitals and one of the largest community-based providers of air medical services. United Rotorcraft is the Company’s products division specializing in the design and manufacture of aeromedical and aerospace technology. Air Methods’ fleet of owned, leased or maintained aircraft features more than 450 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Media Contacts:
Doug Flanders
Director of Communications, Air Methods

Matt Pera
Amendola Communications for Air Methods
(219) 628-0258