Helicopter/Rescue Insurance

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fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
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SAR does not usually bill people anyway...if they do they do not usually expect payment. There has been talk of charging though with the onslot of dumb people going where the shouldnt be or umprepared
This article is a few years old (2015), but discusses places where they tend to charge. Note Wayne and Grand counties (UT) are on that list.

These are places that draw tons of visitors and have small tax bases to cover the costs of rescues. Two Utah counties, Wayne and Grand, consistently charge for SAR. In Grand County, home to Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and a lot more public land, the local SAR team claims to be the busiest in Utah, with around 100 cases a year. For a county of approximately 9,500 tax-paying residents, that’s a big financial burden. County SAR commander Jim Webster says his team spends about $200,000 a year. “We had to start charging because it was so expensive to conduct these operations in our county,” he says, noting that most people who need rescuing are not locals and that county residents don’t get billed. Last year, the county billed for 37 out of 111 total missions and pulled in more than $15,000 in cost recovery fees.
Hence I'm paranoid, so I carry GEOS insurance and have a Reach membership for my alpine trips. I don't have a problem paying for insurance, but it would be nice to see local SAR getting reimbursed instead of just for-profit heli companies.
 

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Bob

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This article is a few years old (2015), but discusses places where they tend to charge. Note Wayne and Grand counties (UT) are on that list.



Hence I'm paranoid, so I carry GEOS insurance and have a Reach membership for my alpine trips. I don't have a problem paying for insurance, but it would be nice to see local SAR getting reimbursed instead of just for-profit heli companies.
I teach EMS for Weber county sheriff. The gal said some billing goes on but they really don't expect getting reimbursed.. and it depends where.
 

Stephanie B

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I just talked with GEOS about their SAR and MEDEVAC plans :

SAR PLANS ( @Carcass the 99 miles is NOT a restriction for GEOS' SAR plans) - and yes @June it does pay for rescue cost and air lift to the local hospital, as long as you have 1) purchased the SAR plan ahead of time and 2) the rescue is INITIATED/ACTIVATED on your GEOS approved device. If you have NOT purchased a SAR plan and you activate the beacon on a GEOS device, then everything is out-of-pocket seen from GEOS' perspective. (I personally think your private Healthcare insurer might see the airlift itself it as a medical emergency and pay.)

MEDEVAC PLANS (restricted, it must be more than 99 miles from home). This other additional plan is used for safe medical evacuations from the local hospital to a final hospital of your choice. That might be relevant for us and @SteveR and others who hike out of state and need safe medical transport back to their home state. This I know isn't covered in normal health insurance plans, but the MEDEVAC plans do cover it.
We contacted GEOS yesterday and got the same information.
 

ImNotDedYet

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This is awesome! Thanks for this thread. I never really understood very well the options for my inReach.

The GEOS SAR is actually really cheap it appears - $18/annually. (or at least that's my renewal cost) The MEDEVAC is $130.
 

Titans

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This is awesome! Thanks for this thread. I never really understood very well the options for my inReach.

The GEOS SAR is actually really cheap it appears - $18/annually. (or at least that's my renewal cost) The MEDEVAC is $130.
Just to clairfy : GEOS' has memberships for 1 PERSON, COUPLE, FAMILY and ORGANIZATIONS. So a 1 person membership covers you (if the search is initiated from the device),- but it obviously does NOT cover another person hiking with you or another injured person you might encounter in the wilderness.

The SAR plans are likely cheap, because a) there is a possibility that you/GEOS might never get billed for the Search and Rescue efforts by the local sheriff and/or b) your primary health insurance might cover the emergency air transportation. In any case, as @fossana clarified, in some counties people do get billed for search and rescue, so then the SAR plan is a big peace of mind. And if your primary healthcare insurance declines to pay for air transport, then SAR plans are perfect too.

The MEDEVAC plans are likely more expensive, because regular primary healthcare insurances do NOT in general cover air transport from one hospital to another hospital of your choice. And since primary healthcare plans do NOT cover it, I'm guessing that also lead to the "99 mile away from home requirement for MEDEVAC" plans only, because otherwise patients would "miss use" a GEOS plan to get air transport from hospital A to hospital B in the same town or close by. By requiring someone to be more than 99 miles away from home, the MEDEVAC plans are perfect for hospitalized "out of state people" in need to get back to a hospital in their home town/state.
 

June

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Classic Air Medical can bill you or your healthcare insurance company $51,000... but it doesn't mean they are going to get paid $51,000. Not by you and not by your insurance company. All those bills are negotiable. And if your healthcare insurer initially declines the airlift bill, then I would challenge the decision and appeal. A healthcare insurance should cover any medical emergency (medical emergency transport) like you had.

@June - What exactly does a Classic Air Medical membership give you? It seems to me that by having a membership the company provides the member with a "waiver" for the healthcare insurance company's co-payment and deductibles. It's not an insurance contract, they state.... and the rescue team on the ground or the dispatch center may call another company for an airlift:
https://www.classicairmedical.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Frequently-Asked-Questions-about-Classic-Air-Medical-Membership.pdf
Health insurance negotiated the bill "down" to $32,000. Still a hefty price.
 

June

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I just talked with GEOS about their SAR and MEDEVAC plans :

SAR PLANS ( @Carcass the 99 miles is NOT a restriction for GEOS' SAR plans) - and yes @June it does pay for rescue cost and air lift to the local hospital, as long as you have 1) purchased the SAR plan ahead of time and 2) the rescue is INITIATED/ACTIVATED on your GEOS approved device. If you have NOT purchased a SAR plan and you activate the beacon on a GEOS device, then everything is out-of-pocket seen from GEOS' perspective. (I personally think your private Healthcare insurer might see the airlift itself it as a medical emergency and pay.)

MEDEVAC PLANS (restricted, it must be more than 99 miles from home). This other additional plan is used for safe medical evacuations from the local hospital to a final hospital of your choice. That might be relevant for us and @SteveR and others who hike out of state and need safe medical transport back to their home state. This I know isn't covered in normal health insurance plans, but the MEDEVAC plans do cover it.

PLS NOTE: GEOS has plans per person, per couple or per family. Someone injured, who is not on a pre-paid GEOS plan, does not receive the benefits, if the GEOS device is activated.
I have a PLB, so GEOS plans are not available.
 

wsp_scott

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Health insurance negotiated the bill "down" to $32,000. Still a hefty price.
Thanks for updating this thread. Do you mean that your insurance company is paying $32k instead of $51k? Or you being asked to pay $32k?
 

Titans

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Health insurance negotiated the bill "down" to $32,000. Still a hefty price.
Thanks for following up on this. Wondering the same as @wsp_scott

After reading about your accident we purchased a Garmin Mini, a Garmin plan and we signed up for a GEOS SAR plan for a couple.
 

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Titans

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Ok, I just followed up with a phone call to GEOS and here's the deal for people with GEOS plans purchased:

GEOS SAR plans are "SECONDARY insurances" to other insurances

1) The search & rescue has to be initiated from the GEOS compatible device, like Garmin InReach. So not by calling 911.
2) Garmin InReach "SOS" function only works with one of the Garmin plans, so obviously that has to be active (ours is temp. suspended now)
3) Injured person / Patient must ALSO have purchased a GEOS SAR plan
4) Patient submits claim to own Health insurance company FIRST (and GEOS is NOT involved in this)
5) Healthcare insurance company decides how much the patient owes in deductible, co-pay, etc. and how much they want to pay for airlift.
a) You have to pay your co-pays, deductible YOURSELF (not GEOS)
b) The healthcare company might disagree with bill and refuse to pay full airlift amount
c) This leads to the FEARED BALANCE BILLING issue, leading patients to cover the difference
6) Healthcare insurance pays helicopter company MINUS patient deductibles, co-pay.
7) Patient pays the co-pay & deductible to helicopter company
8) Patient can submit a claim to GEOS, if there is anything else left to pay.

So let's say airlift bill is $50,000. Your own Healthcare insurance company says: normal price is $30,000 minus your $5,000 co-pay & deductible, etc.
If the Healthcare company is unsuccessful negotiating the original airlift bill down, then there's $20,00 left and that's what you can submit to GEOS as a claim.

If the Helicopter company agrees on a lower negotiated bill, then GEOS might end up paying nothing.
Hence it's a "SECONDARY INSURANCE" to your other insurances, it pays last.
 

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