45 minutes | Feb 24, 2021

How to avoid outrageous fees for a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip

Most of us rely on insurance. But when you suffer a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip, that insurance may not be adequate, especially if you need a land or air ambulance. In fact, many of those air and ambulance costs claims are rejected by the insurance companies, even if the transport was called by EMTs or the hospital. It's a giant loophole that is particularly important for RVers to know about because they often find themselves in remote locations where hospitals can be few and far apart. In RV Podcast Episode 333, we learn the startling high percentage of ambulance runs that are rejected by insurance companies and the catastrophically high costs for emergency air ambulance that also go uncovered by insurers. You can listen to the entire podcast episode in the player below, or go about 20 minutes in to hear the interview. Or scroll down and keep reading this post for a full transcript of the interview. Our guest is Tim Gustafson, who runs an outfit called the Medical Air Service Association (MASA) which offers a special program to cover those 100% of those ambulance costs. I met Tim a couple of weeks ago and after hearing some of the horror stories that RVers have had because of uncovered ambulance fees, I thought his information would be of great interest to RVers. Transcript: Interview about ambulance costs related to a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip Mike Wendland: Joining us now to talk about these issues is Tim Gustafson. Tim is with a group called MASA, for Medical Air Services Association. I met Tim a week or so ago, and we were talking about some of the issues that RVers encounter when medical emergencies happen on the road. He had some pretty scary stories to relate to me that I in turn want to relate to you. So Tim, thank you for agreeing to come on the program and talk about some of this stuff. Tim Gustafson: Well Mike, thank you so much for having me. Mike Wendland: So let's talk a little bit about a lot of us think that if something happens on the road, we're all covered with all the different insurances. Walk through some of the scenarios that we need to understand about ambulances, whether it's emergency air ambulances or even ground ambulances. When an air or land ambulance is called during a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip Tim Gustafson: Yeah. I've been an insurance broker for 16 years or so now. What that means is that I work for my clients, but I represent about 90 different insurance companies. One of the biggest gaps that I see is ambulance coverage, by ground or by air. Statistically, there's roughly three and a half million ground ambulance runs per year, and one out of seven is just outright denied, because it's not up to you, it's not up to the EMT to determine whether it's medically necessary. They have some heartless dorks sitting behind a desk at a home office and an insurance company to decide if it's medically necessary or not. So 14%, roughly one out of seven get denied. Most health insurance plans do not cover emergency transportation The denials by air ambulances are far greater than that. Denial rates are through the roof really, because air ambulances are not considered a medical expense due to the Deregulation Act of 1978. They're actually classified as a common carrier so they can just charge whatever they want whenever they want. The Department of Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid services, any insurance company, they have about as much influence over the pricing as they do over Southwest or Delta Airlines. Mike Wendland: Give us an example. The costs of an air ambulance during a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip Tim Gustafson: I had some great clients that were taking their RVup to Alaska in the summer of 2019. They got just North of the Washington border and the husband ended up having a heart attack. So they called 911, which is the number you call if you're in Canada, by the way. I didn't know that.
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