GAO: Most Air Ambulance Providers Out-of-Network for Privately Insured

More than two-thirds of air ambulance transports for patients with private insurance were out-of-network in 2017, putting patients at financial risk for the difference charged, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO analyzed a private health insurance data set for air ambulance transports with information on network status and prices charged, and found the median price was $36,400 for a helicopter transport and $40,600 for a fixed-wing transport in 2017. The agency also reviewed more than 60 consumer complaints with specific information on balance bills for air ambulance transport and found all but one exceeded $10,000. The US Secretary of Transportation is forming an advisory committee to recommend options to prevent balance billing for air ambulance services.

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