COVID-19 has made it harder to get to and from the hospital. Many facilities have started rationing or limiting care based on the number of available beds. Patients might have no choice but to hitch a ride to the next closest facility in hopes of getting treated, whether they have the virus or not. This has led to exorbitant ambulance bills in some parts of the country.
One couple was almost forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to be airlifted to the hospital – until a nurse swooped in and helped them save money.
An Expensive Commute
Sandy Mirisciotta didn’t know what to do when she found out that her husband, David, wasn’t going to be admitted to Trios Hospital in Kennewick, Washington. The staff told her that he would have to be airlifted to the next closest facility in Sunnyside, which is about 50 miles away.
“He has COPD, which is a chronic lung disease,” Sandy explained.
Sandy said being turned away was a surprise, to say the least.
“They said, ‘So, we’re waiting for a bed and we’re not going to lie to you at this point with the numbers so bad we have patients lined up in the hallway waiting for beds,'” said Sandy.
The couple started looking at options for getting to Sunnyside. That’s when a nurse on staff came up to them and told them to sign up for a membership on LifeFlight.org as soon as possible. The company offers free flights for family members in medical or emergency situations for just $69 a month per household.
“It was $70 versus I’m hearing a $70,000 bill,” said Mirisciotta.
Sandy says the nurse helped her avoid wasting all her savings on one trip.
“If she hadn’t told me…what, I’m going to sit here and get a bill for $70,000, I don’t have that kind of money, I don’t know too many people that do,” she recalled.
The membership covers you, your spouse, and anyone you can claim as a dependent on your taxes.
“Life Flight membership provides a peace of mind. It ensures that you’re not going to receive any out of pocket expenses for a medically necessary flight,” said Michael Weimer, the Regional Vice President for the Life Flight Network. “Oftentimes, these situations are critical, they’re time sensitive, and there’s not much time to make a decision on the mode of transport.”
Weimer adds that users can access these benefits as soon as they receive a receipt of payment.
“If a patient is flown after a membership is applied for and paid for, there will be no out-of-pocket expense,” he added.
Sandy says it’s been over a month since her husband had to be airlifted. They received a bill related to their hospital stay, but have yet to see one from Life Flight.
They say it’s all thanks to the nurse that offered them advice when they needed it most. Now, Sandy can focus on helping her husband recover from his illness instead of worrying about being $70,000 in debt.
The Life Flight website is full of heartwarming stories of how the team went above and beyond for their members.
In one post, a member wrote, “My son was transported, and the team gave us jobs so we could be distracted. I was very impressed by and grateful for Life Flight Network.”
Another one wrote, “I was very impressed by the care and concern from the entire flight team, from the time they all came into my room until they all left me in the OHSU hospital room. They also called OHSU to check on my situation. Even the nurse that was taking care of me was impressed. He wanted to know what I had done to cause this attention. The flight team was wonderful.”
Spread the word. Services like these can save a person’s life and help them avoid taking on unnecessary medical debt.