The Eye-Popping Price Tags On Life-Saving Air Ambulance Rides Are Spiking Despite States’ Efforts To Rein In Costs
Sixty-nine percent of the 20,700 air ambulance transports--which cost up to $40,600--taken in 2017 by privately insured patients were out of network, meaning that the costs may not be fully covered, a Government Accountability Office report finds. And it will only get worse: Companies have hiked their prices by 60 percent, despite states' efforts to put controls in place. In other health care costs news: the price tag on treating sepsis, surprise medical bills, and what the U.S. is spending on health care.
Government Watchdog: Costly Air Ambulances Can Put Patients At 'Financial Risk'
Air ambulances can be life-saving for critically ill patients who need to get to a hospital quickly, but they can also put patients in financial risk, according to a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The median price charged by air ambulance providers in 2017 was from $36,400 to $40,600, and those costs aren't always covered by insurance, according to the report. (Hellmann, 3/21)
Emergency Air Transport Prices Hiked 60% While Adding Bases
The findings by the Government Accountability Office show how costs for patients and insurers have continued to jump despite state efforts to control balance billing for emergency flights. Regulation of emergency air transport falls to the Federal Aviation Administration, so the courts have so far largely struck down states' attempts to rein in the cost burden on patients. The median price charged in 2012 was about $22,000 for a helicopter transport and nearly $25,000 for a fixed-wing ride. Now it's more than $36,000 for transporting patients via helicopter and nearly $41,000 for fixed-wing ride, the GAO reported. (Luthi, 3/21)
Sepsis Cost Hospitals $1.5 Billion More In 2018 Than 2015
The cost of treating patients who develop sepsis in the hospital rose by 20% in just three years, with hospitals spending $1.5 billion more last year than in 2015, according to a new analysis. The report, published Thursday by Premier, found that although the number of patients who developed sepsis during their hospital stay declined by 15% from 2015 to 2018, those patients were more likely to get septic shock—the most severe form of sepsis—and therefore cost more to treat. (Castellucci, 3/21)
Senators Ask CBO To Review Options For Preventing Surprise Medical Bills
The leaders of the Senate Health Committee are asking the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to analyze possible options for protecting patients from getting hit with massive, unexpected medical bills. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the panel's top Democrat, sent options for analysis to the CBO, according to Senate aides. (Sullivan, 3/21)
Georgia Health News:
Change To Surprise Billing Measure Gains Ground But Draws Criticism
The legislative tug-of-war over surprise medical billing continued Thursday as a House panel approved a new version of a Senate bill that aims to curb these unexpected charges to patients. The vote on Senate Bill 56 came as lawmakers were taking action on several health care proposals over the past couple of days. (Miller, 3/21)
Kaiser Health News:
Even With Insurance, She Faced $227K In Medical Bills. What It Took To Get Answers.
The first surprise was the massive heart attack, which struck as Debbie Moehnke waited in a Vancouver, Wash., medical clinic last summer. “She had an appointment because her feet were swollen real bad,” said Larry Moehnke, her husband. “But she got in there and it was like, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!’” Her life suddenly at risk, the 59-year-old was rushed by ambulance, first to a local hospital, where she was stabilized, and then, the next day, to Oregon Health & Science University across the river in Portland for urgent cardiac care. (Aleccia, 3/22)
The Associated Press:
Poll: More Americans Say Too Little Spending On Health
A growing majority of Americans want greater government spending on health care, and the increase is being driven by both Democrats and Republicans. That's according to new data from the General Social Survey, a widely respected trend survey that has been measuring views of government spending since the 1970s. An analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and General Social Survey staff reveals that Americans want to spend more money on a wide range of government functions. (3/21)