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January 19, 2016

We buy health insurance for peace of mind so that when we need it, there is a support system for our care. Sadly, too often the insurance coverage we pay for still leaves us totally unprotected. NPR reports, “For people who think they are protected from crippling health care bills because they have insurance, the cost of an ambulance ride can be a shock.”

Amy Thompson and her family found out the hard way when her two-month-old daughter Isla needed care from a hospital 600 miles away from their home in Butte, Montana.

NPR tells the story: “People in Butte who experience serious trauma or need specialty care rely on air ambulance flights to get them the help they need. […] Seattle Children’s Hospital saved Isla’s life. Her family’s health insurance took care of the costs beyond her deductible – except for that critical air ambulance ride to Seattle.”

NPR adds, “When a patient needs an air ambulance, the first priority is getting them needed care as fast as possible. Patients don’t always know who is going to pick them up or if the ambulance is an in-network provider. That can make a huge difference – and lead to huge bills.”

The total cost: $56,000.

Thompson fought the huge bill and eventually won, “but only after repeated appeals. […] Thompson didn’t think the flight should be free, but says the huge bill felt wrong. ‘I ethically believe this is a part of health care,’ she says. ‘This is not some separate entity. There is something ethically wrong that these companies are profiteering off of people’s worst moments in their lives.’”

As shocking as it is, the Thompson family’s story is not an outlier.

A recent Kaiser/New York Times poll found, “Among the insured with medical bill problems, 63% report using up most of all their savings and 42% took on an extra job or worked more hours.”

Did your health insurance failing you? Share your story and raise your voice! Patients Rising Now is shining a bright light on about the failed state of health insurance.