Americans: Air ambulance services are a critical healthcare service and should be covered by insurance

Air Ambulance lands at Helipad

A new survey conducted by YouGov and released by Global Medical Response (GMR) has revealed that nearly 90 per cent of Americans consider air ambulance services to be a critical part of healthcare, and that the current proposed legislation will only benefit insurance companies.

The poll, which was conducted between 12-16 July, surveyed 1,240 American adults, and comes at a time when US air medical services have come under fire with the proposal of a new legislation to address balance / ‘surprise’ billing.

The results also revealed that 82 per cent of respondents would expect an air ambulance to be available to them should they require the critical healthcare service, and that 87 per cent of people asked (93 per cent of which were in rural areas) believe health insurance companies should not deny coverage for a service ordered by a medical professional. Furthermore, nearly 60 per cent of those asked said that they expected any balance bills should be the responsibility of the insurer.

"Patients should not have to worry about their coverage in an emergency, and insurers must be held accountable for paying fairly for these critical services," said Seth Myers, president of Air Evac Lifeteam, part of the GMR family of companies. "These results show the public agrees. Unfortunately, air medical services are under attack and current legislation is putting patients at risk."

The survey also highlighted a worrying disconnect between American’s perception of the number of air medical transports resulting in a balance bill and the true amount: On average, respondents estimated that 69 per cent of patients flown received a balance bill, where the actual number lies well below 10 per cent.

Other notable findings from the survey reveal that a recent report from the Sierra Health Group calculated that air medical services could be put in-network for a monthly insurance premium increase of $1.70. When asked if they'd be willing to pay this increase if it would guarantee access to these services at the price of their usual co-pay and deductible, 85 per cent of respondents said yes.

"Americans, especially those living in rural areas, know the importance of air medical services and want to have those services available," noted Myers. "As Congress continues to debate legislation that will impact this vital service, we urge members to focus on solutions that will help the market work better for patients going forward."