Missourians turn to air ambulance memberships to cut medical costs

Some Missouri residents, particularly those in rural areas, are paying for air ambulance memberships to avoid high medical expenses, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report.

The issue has become a focus for Missourians who don't live close to a trauma center and may find themselves in need of an air ambulance ride. They don't want to be saddled with additional out-of-pocket costs, and air ambulance service members typically are promised they won't have have to pay extra after a patient's transport, according to the newspaper report.

Poplar Bluff (Mo.) Fire Chief Ralph Stucker told.the Post-Dispatch some Missourians even have a sticker on their vehicle indicating which ambulance company someone should contact in case of an emergency, and some employers in the state have included air ambulance memberships as part of benefits offered to their employees.

Missourians in rural areas also see air ambulance memberships frequently advertised.

But air ambulance memberships are not without risks, the paper found, as sometimes the membership does not cover a competing air ambulance provider.

Air ambulance costs have been a hot topic in Missouri. The Post-Dispatch has reported several instances of Missouri families experiencing substantial air ambulance bills after medical emergencies. This occurs when the air ambulance provider is not in the patient's insurance network, meaning patients are on the hook for out-of-network expenses. Last month, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., revealed she had drafted the Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act, which would give the state more regulatory control over air ambulances.


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