In yet another effort to curb exorbitant air ambulance fees, North Dakota legislators have passed a law to prevent charges by air ambulance companies that aren’t providers with major insurance companies. The bill, which is set to take effect on January 1, will make sure that non-participating air ambulance providers only charge the average fees charged by participating services.
Law Passed as Response to Sky-High Air Ambulance Fees
The Senate Bill 2231 was signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum on April 18. It was passed as a response to frequent complaints of staggering air ambulance charges averaging at nearly $60,000. According to Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, there has been a spike in complaints of late. And it’s a huge issue especially when the air ambulance provider doesn’t belong to any insurance network.
In such cases, the patients will be hit with exorbitant air ambulance fees and their insurers can’t do anything. Between 2013 and January 2017, there were 28 complaints submitted to the North Dakota Insurance Department against air ambulance companies. The air ambulance fees in this complaint amounted to $1.66 million.
Law to Affect Out-of-Network Air Ambulance Companies
A patient’s insurance does not cover air ambulance fees when the air ambulance provider doesn’t have an agreement with the insurer. And this becomes a huge issue because patients often have no choice in which provider they get. But with the new law, out-of-network air ambulance providers will be required to charge patients the average fees of participating companies.
Even in case of non-emergency transfers, hospitals will now need to notify the patients if the air ambulance provider is outside of their insurance network. This particular requirement will take effect starting August 1. With these new rules in place, patients in North Dakota will have a much better air ambulance experience.