How Much Does An Air Ambulance Flight Cost?

An air ambulance may be your only hope of surviving a medical emergency. If you or a loved one needs an air ambulance flight, you’re probably worried about the expense, which is understandable given how expensive these flights can be.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this topic because various criteria determine the cost of an air ambulance flight. Still, according to a new study, it will cost you a lot of money.

According to experts, the typical charge for an air ambulance journey in 2016 was $39,000, up 60% from $24,000 just four years before.

In 2016, that sum was more than half of the average American family’s household income.

In this post, we will take a look at How Much Does An Air Ambulance Flight Costs. We’ll tell you what you need to know about the costs, factors that determine the price, and possible discounts.

What Is An Air Ambulance?

An air ambulance is a specially equipped and manned helicopter or plane that carries patients in an emergency. Medical evacuations, or medevacs, are a common usage for them.

When a doctor confirms that air transport is medically required and a patient is traveling to the next appropriate facility, his air ambulance service is covered by health insurance.

Cost of Air Ambulance Flight for Patients With Health Insurance

It is possible that transportation isn’t covered if it’s done for convenience, such as moving closer to family.

Many of BlueCross Blue Shield of Alabama’s plans, for example, cover air transportation, including transportation to a hospital close to home for patients wounded or hospitalized more than 200 miles away. 

Out-of-pocket expenditures for people with health insurance are often a copay of less than $50 to $500 or more, or coinsurance of 10% to 50% or more, for a total that could exceed the yearly out-of-pocket maximum.

Cost of Air Ambulance Flight for Patients Without Health Insurance

The cost of air ambulance service for patients without health insurance is primarily determined by the current cost of jet fuel, the type of aircraft utilized, the distance traveled, and the sort of medical personnel necessary.

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A short flight can cost less than $2,000, while a lengthier domestic flight can cost nearly $50,000, and an international flight can cost $200,000 or more.

For example, Air Ambulance 1 charges around $2,500 for a 55-mile journey from Saint Joseph, MO, to Kansas City, MO, on a twin-engine propeller plane staffed by paramedics. 

Air Ambulance 1 charges around $25,000 for a flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles on a light jet manned by paramedics. According to National Air Ambulance, a flight from New York to California with a nurse and paramedic costs over $37,400.

Air Ambulance 1 charges about $155,000 for a small jet journey from Arizona to Australia ( $160,000 if staffed by a doctor and nurse). It also charges $177,000 for a mid-sized jet aircraft ($182,000 if staffed by a doctor and nurse).

Reasons For The High Costs of Helicopter Airlifts

The cost of being airlifted to a hospital varies based on the length of the journey and the terrain that the helicopter must traverse. According to the survey, the median cost-per-mile has hit $268.

According to the Washington Post, there are no controls on the system and little competition in most areas, leading most people to believe costs will continue to rise. Gerard Anderson, a professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University and a co-author of the study, said there are no controls on the system and little competition in most areas.

If you are hurt, and an air ambulance comes, you will pay a lot of money because you’re most likely out of network and will get a bill for $30,000 or $40,000.

Many individuals in rural areas have few options since, with so many hospitals closing, a helicopter is the only means to get to a hospital in under an hour.

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Factors That Determine The Cost Of Air Ambulance Flight

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this question because various factors determine the price. As a result, we’d like to provide you a quick rundown of the costs that go into the pricing of an air ambulance flight:

1. Route Of The Flight

The cost of an air ambulance is mostly determined by the distance between the departure location and the destination.

However, the charges do not climb in lockstep with the distance flown but are calculated individually by our team of consultants.

2. The Patient’s Condition

The medical personnel and equipment required must be chosen based on the patient’s condition.

Depending on the diagnosis, an ambulance flight at sea level with cabin pressure equivalent to ground pressure may be required, lengthening the flight and thus increasing the cost of carrying the patient.

3. Short Notice

Because most ambulance planes are in constant use, their availability must be considered. If an aircraft is stationed highly close to the departure site, the cost of an air ambulance may be reduced.

In terms of logistics, it is thus easier and more cost-effective to schedule an air ambulance flight as long in advance as feasible.

On the other hand, last-minute assignments are always feasible, only that they’ll cost you a little more.

4. Persons Accompanying You

You can have close friends and family members with you during the ambulance flight. As a result, the total cost of the ambulance trip is determined by the number of passengers.

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Transporting one accompanying person can usually be free of charge, but multiple relatives can also be taken on an ambulance flight at a cost.

5. Ground Transport

Aside from the air ambulance flight, it is frequently required to arrange for suitable ground transportation in an ambulance or emergency vehicle.

Please keep in mind that the cost of an ambulance vehicle in another country can vary significantly.

Long ambulance rides may be required depending on where the patient is staying, which will affect the entire cost.

What Has To Be Considered While Preparing An Air Ambulance

An air ambulance service should involve a pre-flight medical evaluation and consultation with the patient’s physician, if arranged in advance, to identify the equipment and care required during the journey.

A flight stretcher and sophisticated life-support equipment, such as oxygen, a ventilator, monitors, a defibrillator, IV equipment, and other medical supplies, are usually provided aboard a helicopter, a propeller plane, or a jet.

At least one family member is usually allowed to attend to the patient at no additional cost.

See Also: 10 Most Expensive Helicopters in the World

Additional Cost To Consider

Ground ambulance transport from the present facility to the airplane and from the landing point to the new facility is not included in some providers’ prices.

Due to commissions paid to the broker, booking an air ambulance flight through a broker can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the final cost.

Alternatively, a site like offers free price quotes from a variety of businesses.

Discounts for Air Ambulance Flights 

Many air ambulance services give savings to flexible patients. For example, if one patient is traveling from one location to another and another is going back to the city of origin, both patients may be eligible for discounts of 30% or more.

A professionally qualified medical escort, generally a paramedic or nurse, can accompany the patient on a commercial flight at a fraction of the cost of an air ambulance for relatively stable patients. is a website that provides a list of organizations that assist persons in need of air ambulance service at a reduced rate.

Where To Get An Air Ambulance

1. The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems

It is a non-profit organization that provides voluntary evaluation and accreditation programs. They have advised some states on safety and quality standards, provides a state-by-state list of providers accredited by their organization.

If the expense is covered by insurance, the provider will most likely be secured.

2. The Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA supervises the aviation portion of air ambulance services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a state health department locator, so check with the state where the patient is being picked up to see what criteria are in place and to double-check the provider’s licensing.

3. Inquire about the provider’s accreditation and licensing,

Inquire about the training and licensing of their medical personnel, the number, and the type of medical personnel who will be on the flight.

In addition, ask after the type of aircraft that will be used, whether the aircraft is pressurized, and the equipment that will be onboard.

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A guide to selecting an air ambulance service is available on

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Air Ambulance flights are useful but the cost doesn’t seem to come down soon. Little thanks to medical insurance, some people can afford them.

We hope you found this post very helpful in telling you how much air ambulance flight costs. Let us know what you think.


FAQs on How Much Does An Air Ambulance Flight Cost?

How much does a Life flight cost on average?

According to the NAIC, the out-of-pocket cost of a “life flight” (also known as a MedEvac) can range from $12,000 to $25,000 without insurance coverage or supplementary membership in an air ambulance group (National Association Of Insurance Commissioners).

What is the cost of an ambulance?

Since 2010, ambulance rides have cost an average of $1,189, totaling more than $46 billion. From 2010 to 2019, Medicare enrollees spent an average of $4.6 billion on ambulances. Over the last decade, the cost of ambulance transport has risen slightly from $1,185 to $1,211, averaging $1,189 each year.

Is it true that ambulances are free?

Usually, ambulances are not free. It costs a lot of money to maintain them on the road, and it costs a lot of money to transport you from point A to point B.

What is the reason behind the high cost of airlift?

A large chunk of the balance is ascribed to a mile-per-hour charge, while the remainder is assigned to a liftoff price. Even if you have insurance, your out-of-pocket costs can be staggering. This is due to the fact that certain insurance companies will only cover a portion of the cost of the flight.

What are red helicopters used for?

Red is a common color in nature, and animals utilize it as a warning signal, partially because it shines out well against a green background. Because red is the color of blood, we also link it with danger.

Is air ambulance covered by Tricare?

TRICARE only covers air evacuation if a conventional “land” ambulance is unable to reach you. The nearest facility is a long distance away, or there are other roadblocks. Your medical situation necessitates immediate attention.

Is life flight covered by Medicare?

In the event of an emergency, Medicare Part B may help finance ambulatory transport to a medical institution. Because Life Flight is a private membership program, the cost of membership and associated fees is not covered by Medicare.

What is the reason for the high cost of hospital helicopters?

To cover the losses incurred by providing services to Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured patients, rates have been raised to cover the vast underpayments by Medicare and Medicaid and preserve the ability of air medical services to provide critical levels of health care millions of Americans. 



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