By Denise Roggio, Yarnell Fire District
As those of us who reside in rural Yavapai County are well aware, a health related emergency may require transport via ambulance or helicopter to the nearest medical facility. The average ambulance cost is $3,650; helicopter transport costs are nearly triple that amount. If you have medical insurance, rest assured that most traditional health plans will not cover all the associated transport costs. If you have NO health insurance, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to negotiate the bill with the transport provider. I know this from experience. For instance, Lifeline will accept negotiated monthly payments, but the overall cost will remain in effect. Do you have the coverage you need?
After an ambulance ride in June, 2015, I was made aware of the coverage available from the transporting agencies. I quickly signed up for Air Methods Omni-Advantage membership and Lifeline Ambulance Lifecare. However, it was recently brought to my attention that there is another company we should consider for transport assistance.
If something unfortunate happens that requires you or your loved one to be flown for treatment, understand that there are two companies that provide air transport in our area: Air Methods (Native Air) and PHI Air Medical (Air Vac 17). The problem is we have no way of knowing which one will respond. If Native Air is too far away, Air Vac 17 will respond, and vice-versa. If you have Air Methods/Omni Advantage coverage, it will only cover Native Air transport. So here are all the options:
- Lifecare Coverage: Lifeline Ambulance Coverage is available by calling 928-445-3814
Enrollment is during the month of September each year. If you call the number now, you will be placed on a waiting list until September 2018. The cost according to their website is $50.73 annually per family. Transport charges will go through your existing health insurance first.
- Air Methods Membership: Helps pay for Native Air Flights. Air Methods offers membership starting at $40 per individual or $75 per family annually. Group Plans are available. Air Methods stipulates that this is not an insurance program – it only covers Air Methods Flights after health insurance has met its requirement. If you have no health insurance, you may still qualify. Call 855-877-2518 for application and information.
- PHI Coverage: Helps pay for Air Vac 17 Flights. PHI Cares offers family coverage for as low as $50 per year. Brochures are available in the Fire Administration Building. You may sign up online by visiting www.phicares.com and using Base Code 3756.
Call for information: 1-888-435-9744
Buyer alert: Membership rates for the above are based upon current health insurance status. If you have no coverage or receive Medicare, please contact each company to be sure you qualify for membership.
If you need assistance call Denise at the Fire Administration Building: 928-427-6578.