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An Overview of Air Ambulance Laws in Michigan

When most people think of an ambulance, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely a red and white truck with flashing lights and sirens. Most of the ambulances on Michigan’s roads bear a resemblance to this image. However, some ambulances operate above them in the sky. If you or a loved one believe that you have been affected by a form of negligence that occurred while in an air ambulance, it may be wise to contact an airplane accident lawyer who understands how to navigate that specific field and make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

What is an air ambulance?

An air ambulance is an airplane, or a helicopter designed to help transport patients to and from hospitals. The services of an air ambulance are usually needed when it will take a traditional ambulance too much time to reach a patient in need of emergency transportation. Patients who have suffered traumatic injuries due to pregnancy complications, strokes, heart attacks, or accidents may require air ambulance transportation.

Problems with air ambulance services

Most companies that offer air ambulance services are privately owned and operated, so the price for a service such as this can vary and continues to rise. The average price for a medical helicopter flight has more than doubled between 2010 and 2014.

These high prices mean that not everyone’s insurance can cover the full cost of the air ambulance service. This often results in high balance bills, meaning patients could be presented with bills for thousands of dollars of air ambulance fees that their insurance provider could not cover due to their specific coverage.

Patients who need to use the services of an air ambulance are often unaware of these consequences and balance bills beforehand, which can add financial stress during an already difficult time for themselves and their families when the bills arrive after the accident.

New legislation

The Michigan legislature, however, passed a series of bills that are designed to address the high cost of using an air ambulance service within the state.

These bills include language encouraging hospitals to require prioritizing the use of ground transport methods unless air transport is absolutely necessary, and requiring them to prioritize non-emergency air transportation for patients using in-network providers before seeking assistance from out-of-network services. It would also require both hospitals and air ambulance companies to disclose the estimated cost and network status of any air ambulance transport before ordering the service for non-emergency patients.

In addition, this legislation requires air ambulance providers and companies to accept the amount covered by the insurance of a patient as payment in full. It requires hospitals to allow the in-network air ambulance of a patient to land at their respective facility. Finally, these bills will hold hospitals responsible for any excess charges of a patient should they fail to comply with the rest of the requirements listed in the legislation.

This bill had broad bipartisan support in both of Michigan’s legislative bodies: it passed 33-4 in the State Senate and passed 102-7 in the State House of Representatives. Michigan’s state legislators clearly care about making sure that patients within their jurisdictions have access to affordable forms of emergency care should they need it.

Final thoughts

Emergency care is something that many people do not consider the costs of in the heat of the moment, and it can be crippling when there is not proper legislation to make sure that patients are not gouged after experiencing an emergency.

If you or someone you love has been hurt or negatively affected by the exorbitant pricing of air ambulance services in Michigan before this new legislation took effect in March of 2019, make sure to seek out the help of an experienced attorney who can help you fight for the justice you deserve.

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