Air Rescue offers tool to cut cost of necessary medical flights

Published 12:36 am Friday, August 12, 2022

A critical lifesaving tool used often in Southeast Texas is offering membership services that stretch much farther than the region.

Susan Steele with Southeast Texas Air Rescue on Thursday spoke about the local helicopter rescue services as well as its access across the country.

“Most importantly what we have here is Southeast Texas Air Rescue,” Steele said. “We are at St. Elizabeth Hospital, and we are part of the nation’s largest air ambulance service.

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“A lot of people don’t realize it, but the level of skill we have in our helicopter would probably surprise everybody. We carry more equipment and a greater array of medications on board so that once they get you on board they can actually start turning you around.”

Steele is the membership sales manager for AirMedCare Network and services more than 10 counties including Jefferson and Orange.

But one of the biggest benefits to Southeast Texas Air Rescue is its membership program through AirMedCare Network, which can save a patient thousands of dollars through use of a monthly fee.

“Our membership is pretty basic. It’s pretty simple. We fly everybody,” she said. “When we’re called out to a scene, whether it’s an accident or a heart attack or a stroke, we fly everyone. The difference is if you have the membership, you just don’t get billed.”

According to a 2021 report from the American Journal of Managed Care, the cost of helicopter air ambulance transport on average has increased more than 70 percent since 2017.

Through AirMedCare’s membership program, a flat fee starting at $65 per month covers every member in the household.

“Everyone,” Steele said. “Even if your sister-in-law lives there, it covers her. Say they pick you up…and they take you to St. Elizabeth, and they get you there and they say, ‘this guy really needs to go to Houston.’ They’re going to load you back up…and that too is no bill.”

With 350 bases in 38 states, the membership covers individuals regardless of where they are. And there is an additional membership package called “fly you home” that will return a patient from another state to that of their choosing.

“If you travel, say you are in Colorado and something happens and we take you to a hospital and they stabilize you but you want to come home — because it’s difficult for family to be there, rent hotel rooms, and travel the distance — we will bring you and your spouse back home to the hospital of your choice so you can recover in your area with your doctor,” Steele said.

The company also offers international services for those who travel overseas.

For more information, email susan.steele@gmr.net.