Most everyone in the United States knows the high cost of health care. Even if you have high-quality, private insurance, you may not be covered in certain hospitals or for certain procedures. Additionally, if you are seriously injured in a car accident, you may not be able to choose treatment that suits your insurer. First responders could load you into a helicopter, potentially saving your life but putting you tens of thousands of dollars in debt.  Air ambulance flights after an accident | Missouri Car Accident Lawyer | Beck & Beck

The High Cost of Air Ambulances

When emergency services arrive to the scene of an accident, they have to make split-second decisions. If your injuries seem serious and you are far from a major hospital, they might call in an air ambulance evacuation.

While most insurance companies will cover the costs of an ordinary ambulance ride, many have restrictions on how or when patients can be taken away by helicopter.

Even if your insurance does cover an air evacuation, you could still be billed for part of the service—and it likely will not be cheap. A recent crowdsourced study from National Public Radio and Kaiser Health News found that the average cost of a medevac helicopter ride ranges between $28,000 and $97,000. In some rare cases, patients have been charged up to $500,000 for a service that it is often provided without a patient’s explicit consent.

Why Medevac Rides Cost So Much

Helicopter evacuations can save lives because they’re able to:

  • Respond to accidents much faster than ordinary ambulances
  • Transport patients to hospitals at high speeds
  • Easily reach crash sites that might be inaccessible to ground crews

However, air ambulance companies have high operating costs because:

  • Helicopter pilots and crews command much higher salaries than ordinary ambulance teams
  • Helicopter pilots and crews must be ready to respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice

Increased competition means that air ambulance companies often have to fight for patients. But because they still have fixed operating costs, such as vehicle maintenance and flight crew salaries, competition often forces air ambulance companies to charge even more for their services.

Air Ambulance Companies Are Not Health Care Providers

Air ambulances are governed by a very different set of rules than ground ambulances. The federal government treats air ambulance companies as air carriers rather than health care providers. Since air carriers come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration, state regulators have no authority to cap their treatment fees—fees which can and often do stretch into the tens of thousands of dollars.

When an air ambulance transports a patient to the hospital, they may bill your insurance. However, insurance companies regularly refuse to pay the entire cost of a medevac flight. If there is an unpaid balance, the helicopter service can pass it on to an individual patient.

Why You Might Not Be Responsible for the Bill

If your health insurance company will not pay the costs of your helicopter evacuation, you could be stuck with an impossibly large bill. However, you may not have to pay. If another person’s negligence caused your injuries, they should be liable for the costs of treatment—not you. Since Missouri is an at-fault insurance state, the at-fault driver’s company should be responsible for your medevac flight.

An Attorney Can Help You Deal With Medevac Debt

Car insurance companies are for-profit businesses, which means they often do everything in their power to avoid paying what they owe. However, an insurance industry’s business model does not mean they are above the law. You should never have to bear the burden of another motorist’s bad mistake, even if their insurer prefers that you do. 

A Missouri personal injury attorney could help you file an insurance claim to recover your losses after an accident. This includes the cost of your medevac flight, as well as any other damages you may have incurred.

Have You Been Injured In A Missouri Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a Missouri car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 314.200.1229 to schedule a free consultation. We help car accident victims throughout the state of Missouri including Columbia, Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis, Kirksville and Cape Girardeau.


Paul Beck
Helping car accident victims and personal injury clients throughout the state of Missouri .