Why Is The Cost Of A Medical Helicopter In Chester County So Excessive?

Helicopter companies are taking everyone for a ride.

I represent a client who was seriously injured and had to be transferred from a local Chester County hospital to Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. The decision was made to transfer the client by helicopter.

The bill for the 21 mile flight was $29,800.

Health insurance will not pay the bill.

An ambulance ride for the same distance would have been $1,000.

Lawyer Questions

I have two major questions as to why a person should go bankrupt for a 15 minute helicopter ride. First, was the helicopter necessary? If a life-threatening condition exists and time is of the essence, then helicopter transportation would be justified in order to save a life. In this case, my client had sustained a serious leg injury and it was necessary to transport him to trauma hospital quickly. However, the helicopter ride was actually two times longer than transportation by an ambulance.

A Quicker Ride By Land To The Jefferson Hospital In Philadelphia

At 9:00 at night, an ambulance ride from the Chester County Hospital to Philadelphia would have taken 35 minutes. From the time the helicopter company was called until the time my client was delivered at Jefferson was over an hour and ten minutes. Even though the helicopter ride took about 12 minutes, there was a great deal of time spent in flying the helicopter to the first hospital. The helicopter arrived almost 45 minutes after it was dispatched.

Even if a situation dictates that a helicopter should be used, why does it cost so much? The base price of a helicopter for any transportation is $24,000. The additional $5,800 was for “rotor miles.” Why does it cost $5,800 in fuel and maintenance to go 21 miles? You can fly first class on a jet plane from New York to Los Angeles for half the price. You and your family can take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon for less than one-tenth of the price. It seems to me the price of $30,000 for a short helicopter ride is set because the helicopter company can justify charging whatever they want in order to save a life.

Helicopter Robbery

Two years ago, I had another client who had a longer helicopter ride from an accident scene to a trauma center. The cost of the ride was $16,000, and I thought that that was prohibitive. I think that a $29,800 bill for a 21 mile ride is highway robbery.

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