Financial risk for privately-insured air ambulance patients

Financial risk for privately-insured air ambulance patients

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report that highlights that privately-insured air ambulance patients are at a financial risk for balance bills, should they be transported by out-of-network providers.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report that highlights that privately-insured air ambulance patients are at a financial risk for balance bills, should they be transported by out-of-network providers.

The report, AIR AMBULANCE: Available Data Show Privately-Insured Patients are at Financial Risk, details the extent of out-of-network transports and balance billing, as well as the approaches that selected states have taken to limit potential balance billing. It reveals that 69 per cent of about 207,00 air ambulance transports of privately-insured patients were out-of-network in 2017 – higher than that of ground ambulance transports, which sat at 51 per cent in 2014, according to one study.

Although, as GAO reported in 2017, there is a lack of national data on balance billing, having reviewed over 60 consumer complaints received by GAO’s selected states (the only states able to provide information on the amount of individual balance bills), GAO found that all but one complaint was for a balance bill over US$10,000.

The report also cites that the six states reviewed by GAO (as well as others) have attempted to limit balance billing, having taken actions to regulate insurers and/or public attention.

Read the full report here.