How Missouri officials are responding to patients’ excessive air ambulance bills: 6 things to know

State officials are looking for ways to protect Missouri families from excessive air ambulance bills, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report.

Here are six things to know about the situation.

1. At least 10 Missourians have been hit with excessive air ambulance bills since 2016, according to the report. In one instance, the family of an 8-year-old boy who was transported by air to a St. Louis hospital following a camping trip injury received a $32,000 bill. Another Missourian, Dee Goodin, 31, was told he owed $36,000 after fracturing multiple vertebrae and was transported from Reynolds County to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis County, according to the report.

2. Both residents were insured by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield at the time of their accidents and were transported by Air ambulance company Air Evac Lifeteam, part of Lewisville, Texas-based Air Medical Group Holdings. Air Evac Lifeteam was not in network under the residents’ coverage, meaning patients were on the hook for out-of-network expenses.

3. Information submitted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by the Missouri attorney general’s office show the office has logged and investigated 10 consumer complaints of excessive air ambulance bills since 2016, according to the report. Complaints include allegations against Air Evac Lifeteam and other air ambulances, such as Arch Air Medical Service and Survival Flight.

4. Steps are being taken to address the issue. For instance, state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, sent letters to multiple Missouri departments and talked with representatives of the Missouri Department of Insurance regarding concerns, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

5. The report states the senator is also working on legislation to address balance billing in emergency situations. Balance billing occurs when patients receive care out of network and are billed for costs not paid by insurance. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Missouri legislation may not greatly affect the issue due to how the federal government regulates air ambulances.

6. Additionally, Randall Williams, MD, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, has urged other state departments to look at how they can help families, according to the report.

Read the full report here.

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