When Are Medical Flights Covered By Insurance?
If you've ever seen a hospital-branded helicopter buzzing overhead, you've likely just witnessed a medical flight transporting a severely ill or injured hospital patient. While these flights are fairly common across the U.S., they're also expensive—which means that many insurance policies are reluctant to pay the costs of this flight without some serious evidence that it was unavoidable. For many who may need one or more medical flights over the course of a lifetime, investing in medical flight-specific insurance can be a good idea. Read on to learn more about when medical flights are needed and how insurance coverage for these flights can be a tricky prospect.
When are medical flights necessary?
In general, medical flights are used when a hospital or urgent care facility lacks the necessary equipment to adequately treat a critically ill patient and using an ambulance transport is just too risky. These flights may be used to transport a seriously premature infant from a rural hospital to a big-city NICU or to send someone with a broken neck to a spinal injury specialist to seek out paralysis interventions while they can still do some good.
Medical flights are often used after a serious car crash, especially one that snarls traffic. Sometimes, even if injuries aren't critical in that the patient is near death, they require prompt inpatient treatment that won't be readily available by navigating an ambulance through traffic-clogged streets.
How are medical flights covered under most insurance policies?
The short answer to this question is that they often aren't. Many insurers will require that a medical flight receive pre-approval before it can be covered—and because insurance considerations are usually the last thing on your mind when you or a loved one needs a medical flight, getting this pre-approval doesn't often happen. While you may be able to appeal the denial of coverage if you can show that the medical flight was necessary and there simply wasn't time to jump through insurance hoops before it happened, this process can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking.
By purchasing a health insurance supplement that provides coverage for medical flights, you'll be able to rest assured that no matter what critical medical ailments may befall you in the future, you'll be able to access state-of-the-art medical treatments and rapid transport to these treatment centers without worrying about insurance coverage during a time of crisis.
If you opt to not purchase medical flight insurance, it may be worthwhile to review your current insurance policy with your spouse or partner to see what it covers (as well as what you'll need to do to trigger coverage). This can give you a head start on decision-making if you ever find yourself in need of a medical flight.