Profile picture
John Tozzi @jtozz
, 13 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
America has almost a thousand medical helicopters that transport patients in urgent situations. The services can be lifesaving, but expensive. 1/
The bills can typically be $30,000 or more, and the charges have gone up quickly -- more than doubled between 2010 and 2014, according to GAO. 2/…
If patients are uninsured, or if insurers don't cover the full costs that ambulance providers charge, they often balance bill patients. 3/…
That leads to bills like this, which was sent to the estate of a patient who died following a medical flight. $34,495 for an 18 mile helicopter flight. (After the $4,000+ insurance agreed to pay.) 4/
If patients are covered by Medicare or Medicaid — about 56% of medical flights — air ambulance companies can't balance-bill. They have to take payment, which is often below their costs (especially for Medicaid). 5/
How much air ambulance flights should cost in the private market is a fascinating economic question, because patients cannot "shop" and providers can't turn away patients. So how does the "market" determine a fair price? 6/…
An additional wrinkle: Federal law considers air ambulance operators to be "air carriers" like Delta or JetBlue, meaning states can't regulate their charges. 7/…
If insurers and air ambulance companies could negotiate in-network contracts, that would protect (insured) patients. One insurer in West Virginia told regulators that Air Methods "refuses to discount its services by more than 3% of its total charge.” 8/…
Most air ambulances are for-profit and now owned by private equity groups (including KKR, lately seen buying another health care company… known for surprise emergency medical bills… )
The air ambulance industry maintains that it has to charge high prices to private insurers because it loses money on Medicaid/Medicare flights. “We need to hold the insurers’ feet to the fire to say we need a reasonable rate,” one exec told me. 9/…
Important to note that these companies are still profitable, with margins slightly above other health services 10/…
A lot of patients are getting bills that look like the down payment on a house. "I was angry and I felt like we were being taken advantage of," said the mother of one 3-year-old patient (family is suing company) 11/…
PS: If you have a story about your experience with air ambulances (or anything else really interesting and health care-related), here's how to reach me: (or DM for phone or signal)
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to John Tozzi
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!