Who Is Responsible for Emergency Air Lift Costs? | Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C
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Who Is Responsible for Emergency Airlift Costs?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury

Often, people are taken to the hospital in an ambulance when they need emergency care. We all know ambulances are notoriously expensive, but what happens if the nearest hospital is a hundred miles away. Or if you need a trauma center ASAP?

There are air medical transport services for those who need care right away, such as after a serious car accident. And while medical airlift services save lives, the costs associated with being brought to the hospital by helicopter can be significantly higher than a traditional ambulance. Even worse, some insurance companies won’t cover the expense. This potentially leaves the patient with an astronomical bill they are responsible for paying.

If you’re dealing with emergency airlift costs related to an injury caused by someone else, it’s time to speak to an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer. For a 100% free case assessment, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900. We’ll assess your situation and explain your legal options.

Illinois Medical Airlift Services & Costs

Medial airlifts are operated by various area hospitals, agencies, and for-profit medical evacuation companies.

Sometimes called “MedEvac,” people in critical conditions, like those after a serious car accident, often need to be flown to the nearest facility with the necessary resources. These “life-flights” are typically via helicopter and need to fast because failing to do so may result in the patient succumbing to their injuries.

Medical Flight – Cost Factors

Injury victims depend on air ambulances. As result, they are well equipped with a highly trained staff. This, along with the following factors, make air medical transport quite expensive:

  • Type and amount of fuel needed
  • The treatments, procedures, and medications administered
  • Type of aircraft
  • The distance covered
  • Type and amount of medical staff

The National Associate of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) estimates that it costs between $12,000 and $25,000 for an average 52-mile flight. A significant portion of this covers a liftoff fee, while much of the remaining balance is attributed to a mile-per-hour charge.

The federal government provides reimbursement for medical airlifts for Medicare and Medicaid patients, which has led to more for-profit air ambulances. These private medical airlifts usually have higher fees for services than hospitals and governments. Some medical ambulance companies even charge extra for transportation from the landing site to the hospital.

Does Insurance Cover Life Flights?

Many people assume their insurance will cover the costs of being life-flighted in an emergency. But even with insurance coverage, your out-of-pocket expenses can be incredibly high. That’s because some insurance companies will only pay a partial amount. Sometimes that partial amount is a mere $300 on a $10,000 bill. Airlift costs are often described as an example of “surprise billing” and demonstrate a clear issue with health care cost transparency policies.

Additionally, insurers frequently deny payment if the air ambulance is outside of their network or deemed convenient rather than necessary.

Many patients have difficulty reading through their complicated insurance policy or don’t get a chance to look due to emergency circumstances. As a business, an insurance company’s chief interest is keeping their costs low rather than ensuring that your medical bills are covered.

What Does the Patient Pay for an Airlift?

Needing to be life-flighted may seem like a rare event, but more than 85 Million Americans live in areas where a helicopter is the only way to a hospital in under an hour. Minutes count, and the cost attached to these life-saving flights takes many people off guard.

While the precise amount depends on the various factors involved and your insurance coverage, the out-of-pocket cost of a life flight can run in the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars.

For instance, if you were airlifted in-network, your provider can either accept the payment or pay a portion of the cost. You will then be responsible for the difference. On the other hand, if you don’t have insurance or your provider denies your claim, you may be responsible for the total cost of the medical airlift.

Infographic showing the costs of an airlift

Talk to a Lawyer About Air Ambulance Charges

You shouldn’t have to be burdened with enormous bills or insurance companies that try to avoid covering these expenses. If your injuries were caused by another’s negligence, our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you recover compensation for emergency airlift costs. We will challenge the insurance companies to get you all the compensation you’re entitled to.

Contact us today at to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your case.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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