Sunday, May 8, 2011
Editor's Note: "Barb's Wire" appears monthly in the Modoc Independent News.
A few years ago I wrote an article about our local air ambulance service. After doing some research I discovered if you had to be flown out in a medical emergency you should belong to the two air ambulance companies that served our area, not just one. That way, you’d be covered if for some reason your company couldn’t come and get you. As a result many residents signed up with both Mountain Air and PHI and thought they were okay.
But recently at least two Surprise Valley families who thought they were covered by air ambulance membership found themselves in emergency situations where neither Mountain Air or PHI were available, or if they were their aircraft was too large to land in Surprise Valley.
Surprise Valley hospital administrator Wanda Grove told me there are in fact more than four air ambulance companies that serve Surprise Valley. When I asked her if the hospital should be responsible for informing the public about the various air ambulance companies she said, “It’s something we should do and that’s what we’re going to do. “
Monica Derner, CAO of Modoc Medical Center told me they work with nine air emergency flight companies: Air Life Oregon, American MedFlight, Care Flight, Enloe Flight Crew, Mercy Flight, Mt Life Flight, PHI Air Medical, REACH and Airlift Klamath. Derner went on to explain how air ambulance memberships work.
“Participation with these organizations are merely memberships, not insurance coverage. Typically, a membership can run $50-$100 per year per household. If you're a member, the company used will bill third party payers (commercial insurance, Medicare, etc). Generally, there is little or no liability left to the patient.”
I asked, “Let’s say I decide to take a membership in four air ambulance companies. But none of them are available when my unforeseen accident happens? Isn't this like sort of like Russian Roulette?”
Derner: “If the patient is not a member but has third party coverage, it would be the patient's obligation to file a claim with their insurance company. Of course, each company may have varying terms. Also, there are no guarantees the membership company will be the one transporting the patient. Varying factors would include bad weather, maintenance of the craft, or out on other calls (unavailable).”
But still, I wonder, does this mean each one of us has to contact we don’t know how many companies, compare their rates and then decide if we want to sign up?
Derner says, “We inform the public by having the literature available, but similar to insurance programs, it's up to the consumer to determine the best fit for them.”
Why couldn’t there be one company that could handle all memberships? We should be able to go to one central location and know we have coverage with all the companies that fly patients out of Modoc County. Even if it costs us each $200 per year.
Coincidentally both hospitals are holding public events about this on the same day, May 11. In Alturas at the Health Fair between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Some of the air ambulance companies will have booths.
In Surprise Valley at 7 p.m. at the Rotary meeting at the Cedarville Community Church. Air ambulance representatives will be in attendance.
-- Barbara March
List of Winners:
1st Place (Royal Flush)- Lloyd Mitchell, Robert Summer,Karen King,
& Guy Axelrod. Received prizes valued at $500 each
2nd Place- Jeff Soloman & Judy Cooper
3rd Place- Alex Ross & John Otterson
4th Place-Dave Jackson
5th Place- Evelyn Williamson
6th Place-Jared McGarva
7th Place- Melissa Carlson, Karrie Chainey, & David Lutz
8th Place- Kim Welman & Jim Hays