California Couple Contemplated Bankruptcy After Being Charged $97,000 for Air Ambulance Ride

Sharee B.

A California couple, Matt and Kathleen Hoechlin was skiing in the Mammoth Lakes area when she hit a bump that caused her to suffer from a serious spinal injury to one of her vertebrae. However, the area hospital didn't have everything necessary to provide the level of medical care that she needed.

After being transported to another facility 300 miles away to undergo a 12-hour spinal surgery, Kathleen began receiving phone calls from Guardian Flight, an air transport company that had flown them to the hospital the day before. They had informed the Hoechlins that they owed a total of $97,269 for the flight services, and would continue to call daily over the next few months.

Initially, they kept calm as they assumed their insurance provider Cigna, would cover the cost of the medical flight, but they later discovered that the company was considered out of network, which prevented them from covering little more than $17,000.

Matt, who had become deterred by the relentless phone calls of the flight services company, had even considered bankruptcy at one point, before successfully negotiating the $79,700 remaining balance down to $20,000.

Due to the generosity of a GoFundMe campaign, savings depletion, family gifts, and friends, they were eventually able to afford to repay the balance of the debt. Although Kathleen is grateful that the bill is no longer an issue, she still remains affected by the air ambulance ride that cost nearly one hundred thousand dollars and was attempting to collect while she was still in her full body cast.

For now, other patients with similar experiences are trying to get to the bottom of how something so necessary as a medical flight could potentially bankrupt people needing life-saving care.

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