Air Methods announces in-network agreement with Avera Health Plans & DAKOTACARE

Air Methods, a leading air medical service provider, announced it has reached an agreement with Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE to provide in-network coverage for its consumers. The agreement will protect both Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE members from unplanned financial liability for Air Methods’ services.

Air Methods operates Black Hills Life Flight, based out of Rapid City, South Dakota, which serves the state’s greater Black Hills region. Under this agreement, Rocky Mountain Holdings (Black Hills Life Flight) has agreed to accept the amount allowed by Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE as full settlement of their charges in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

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This agreement includes all the air ambulance services operated by Rocky Mountain Holdings, which is one of the largest air ambulance providers currently operating in the United States with 38 distinct air ambulance operations. With this agreement, Air Methods is now in-network with 54 commercial health plans. Over 80 percent percent of the population is covered for Air Methods’ high-quality care either through commercial insurance or through Medicare or Medicaid so they will not receive a balance bill for services.

“This agreement eliminates member exposure to balance billing, which is the difference between the provider’s normal billed charges and the amount allowed by the health plan,” said Chris Myers, executive vice president of reimbursement for Air Methods. “It will protect our patients from thousands of dollars in unplanned financial liability when an episode of medical care involves the need for air ambulance transportation.”

Air Methods is focused on securing in-network partnerships that allow consumers to do away with paying air medical membership fees. In-network coverage offers consumers a discounted, rate of payment for qualified services, which varies depending on their plan’s benefits. Staying in-network for healthcare services can help consumers avoid unexpected spending as well as balance billing, which is the practice of the healthcare provider billing a patient for the difference between the plan’s reimbursement and the medical charges.

Along with costs, distance from medical facilities is a vital healthcare issue across the United States, especially with an increasing number of rural hospital closings. Today, 85 million (out of 325 million) Americans have access to a Level-1 or -2 trauma care facility within one hour only if they are flown by air medical missions. Air Methods eliminates those geographic obstacles while providing life-saving interventions during transport, such as clot-busting medications that must be given shortly after a major stroke to significantly improve outcomes, and trauma care after an accident. Many rural regions in the states covered under the agreements finalized in 2018 fall into this category.

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Air Methods operates more than 300 bases serving 48 states. From these locations, Air Methods can operate its flying intensive care units around the clock. Air Methods’ 4,500 team members assist in caring for and transporting more than 400,000 patients every year.

As Air Methods continues to work towards additional in-network agreements, its Patient Advocacy Program also supports patients with insurance bills when their air medical care and transportation is an out-of-network benefit. The Patient Advocacy Program team works on the patients’ behalf, especially as related to supporting patients with billing questions and insurance appeals.

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