A horseback ride accident leads to thousands in air ambulance medical cost Sonna Anderson was enjoying a horseback ride through the Badlands in North Dakota in September 2017 when her horse, Cody, got spooked, jerked toward a fence and tripped on a cow track in the dirt. The horse rolled onto Anderson, who hit her head, briefly lost consciousness and broke three ribs. The 911 transcript shows that an ambulance reached the 60-year-old judge from Bismarck within 20 minutes. Anderson was secured on a backboard and ready to go when an air ambulance, a helicopter with a medical crew, also landed at the scene. Anderson says her husband asked repeatedly whether the ground ambulance crew could take her by ground; there was a hospital less than an hour’s drive away
“But he was told that [the air ambulance] was necessary. They never told him why it was necessary or how much it cost, but they insisted I had to go by air ambulance,” Anderson said. “But it’s so odd there is nothing in the record that indicated it was time-sensitive or that I needed to be airlifted.”
For that one helicopter ride, to a hospital farther away in Bismarck, records show that Valley Med Flight charged Anderson $54,727.26. Sanford Health Plan, her insurance, paid $13,697.73. That left Anderson with a $41,029.53 bill.
There are large areas of rural America that have become health care deserts. In an effort to contain rising health care costs, CMS has made it economically unobtainable to provide adequate hospitals in rural areas. A number of alternatives are in use, telehealth, remote monitoring, access to lower level providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners
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