How to Determine the Cost of an Air Ambulance

While it is true that transportation to a medical facility via an air ambulance may save your life, it is also true that you will end up burdened with a lifetime of debt for the trip.[1]Determining the cost of an air ambulance, either by helicopter or small plane, isn’t straightforward; there are no national requirements regarding fees, which can range from under $12,000 to more than $25,000 for a short flight. There isn’t much you can do about emergency air transport, such as in the case of a car accident, but if you need to arrange for air medical transport for non-life threatening situations, follow the steps below to determine the cost of an air ambulance.


  1. Image titled Determine the Cost of an Air Ambulance Step 1
    Search for local air transport companies. Use your search engine to find medical air transport in your area or region. For best results, search for your city and state and the words, “air ambulance service.”
  2. Image titled Determine the Cost of an Air Ambulance Step 2
    Examine the services offered. Many air transport companies provide emergency transport to nearby medical facilities, but you may need a different type of service. Find out if the company can accommodate any of the following, in addition to emergency situations:
    • Transportation for someone who is unable to travel on a commercial airline; there may be no pressing medical need, but the patient simply may not be physically up to the rigors of commercial airline travel.
    • In-flight services that provide medical requirements during transport; will the patient need specific attention such as IV fluids, oxygen or any specialty monitoring?
    • Repatriation services. This is a service that connects patients with their families in the patient’s home country while providing medical monitoring during the entire trip.
  3. Image titled Determine the Cost of an Air Ambulance Step 3
    Get answers to your questions. An air ambulance service should be able to provide:
    • Assistance and transport for anyone, from infants to senior citizens.
    • All required life support medical equipment and required medications.
    • Medically trained personnel that will attend the patient from the hospital bedside all the way to the destination facility’s bedside.
  4. Image titled Determine the Cost of an Air Ambulance Step 4
    Make sure the quote from the air ambulance service is all-inclusive. Determine if there are hidden costs, such as ground transportation of the patient to and from the hospitals and the aircraft.
  5. Image titled Determine the Cost of an Air Ambulance Step 5
    Check your health insurance policy. Some policies pay a token amount for air transport, even if medical necessity is established. Medicaid will sometimes cover the cost of an air ambulance. Medicare, however, usually doesn’t cover the cost of air medical transport services.


  • A ground ambulance is much cheaper than an air transport, but sometimes, the medical crew on the ground determines that air transport is safer due to ground transportation issues such as rough terrain or heavy traffic.
  • In emergency situations, air transport is called only after a medical crew on the ground evaluates the condition of the patient, the severity of injuries and the distance to a treatment center.
  • The exorbitant costs of air medical transport are due to the cost of the aircraft, which is seldom less than $2 million, the cost of state-of-the-art medical equipment that must be on-board, the cost of fuel and of course, the expense of having highly trained emergency medical personnel on call.
  • According to the Association of Air Medical Services,[2]nearly 1,200 aircraft operate from more than 830 bases across the country.


  • Some hospitals pay for repatriation flights, check with the hospital first so that you don’t pay for an air ambulance service that is already being provided.

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Categories: Travel