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Consumer Reports: Shocking cost of air ambulances

Insurance companies say air ambulances charge such huge bills, they're only willing to pay a fraction of the cost. That means you as the consumer are stuck to pay the rest of the bill. (Image credit: MGN Online)

In a true medical emergency, if you call a ground ambulance, your insurance company is likely to pay most of the cost. But insurance companies say air ambulances charge such huge bills, they're only willing to pay a fraction of the cost, and that means you, as the consumer, are stuck paying the rest of the bill. And that cost can be high. Consumer Reports says the average bill for medical helicopters is more than $30,000.

Even more shocking? Consumer Reports finds many people taken by air ambulance could have been safely driven to the hospital in a ground ambulance in the same amount of time, or even quicker. This is so unfair for consumers because in an emergency situation, that last thing you're thinking about is how you're going to pay the bill for the transportation that takes you to the hospital. Consumers often have absolutely no idea they're going to be on the hook for such a big bill.

If you get stuck with a high air-ambulance bill, Consumer Reports suggests you ask your insurance company to advocate on your behalf to challenge the bill directly with the air-ambulance provider. And to bolster your odds, file a formal complaint with the appropriate agency in your state government. Click here for more information.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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