Medical air transport moves patients in critical condition to and from health facilities over long distances, when time is of the essence. It is a good option for travelers, or for people who live in remote or hard-to-access areas. It can also be an excellent idea for patients who may need to reach specialized medical facilities quickly in case of emergency.

When choosing between medical air transport companies, there are important differences to consider first. For instance, only some companies accept people with pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, while certain companies mandate “medical necessity” before rendering services, others do not. Most medical air transport providers require that healthcare professionals travel with patients, but their level of training varies. Some use professionals with special instruction for air ambulances, others simply use staff with standard training, and others require EMT or paramedic preparation.

Make sure that the company you choose is accredited or certified. The most common are the CAMTS accreditation (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems), the FAA Part 135 Certificate, and the ARGUS rating, which rates and certifies chartered aircraft providers that have demonstrated a certain level of safety and competence. Also remember to evaluate their reputation, and whether they offer round-the-clock customer service.

Remember to always compare quotes from different companies before making a final decision. If the patient has insurance coverage, learn the facts about what air medical transport costs are included and under what specific circumstances. Are there regional restrictions? Is there financial limit to coverage? If abroad, will the company be able to provide medical transportation back to the member’s home country? How long is the initial waiting period?


Top 9 Companies

#1
Our Partner
10 / 10
  • Pre-existing conditions covered
  • Home country hospital of choice
  • Access to 250 private air ambulances in 50 locations
  • No medical necessity
  • No costs limits (domestic and international)
#2
9.2 / 10
  • Fly to any US or Canada hospital you choose
  • No medical necessity requirement
  • Valid in US and worldwide
  • No waiting period
  • No maximum dollar limit
  • Domestic and foreign travel
  • Up to age 74 years
#3
9.1 / 10
  • No co-pay, no deductible
  • No medical necessity
  • Covers pre-existing conditions
  • No claim limits
  • Air medical transport to hospital of your choice
#4
8.2 / 10
  • Available for all nationalities
  • Starts at $119
  • 100 miles from home
  • 2 transports per year
  • Up to $500,000 limit
#5
8.0 / 10
  • Worldwide coverage
  • 24/7 support
  • Bed to bed service
  • Over 4,800 medical personnel
  • Multi-lingual
  • Medical and security services
  • $1,000,000 limit on medical repatriation and evacuation

 

#6
7.8 / 10
  • Transport to member’s home hospital or medical facility
  • No co-pays, no deductibles, no claim forms
  • Starts at $6 per day (short term plans)
  • 32 countries
  • 2 services per person per year
  • Vehicle return
#7
7.1 / 10
  • No claim limits
  • No deductibles
  • No age limits
  • No health questions
#8
6.6 / 10
  • Transport to home hospital
  • 99 miles or more away from home
  • Vehicle return
  • For ages 75 years and older (senior plan)
  • No claim forms
  • No physical examination
#9
5.4 / 10
  • United States only (15 states)
  • Starts at $65
  • No air transport limits
  • No deductibles
  • Transport to the nearest medical facility
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How We Compare Medical Air Transport

Plans

35%

Cost Limits

It’s not enough to know that your provider is able to offer medical air transport services across any point in the world. Knowing just how much it’s willing to cover expenses should also be considered. The main benefit of membership-based medical air transport services is that it is cheaper compared to call-based or on-demand medical air transport. “NO cost limit” simply means no out-of-pocket expenses regardless of distance travelled.

Nearest Appropriate Medical Facility Limitation

In most cases, medical air transport services have the sole discretion of determining the appropriate medical facility destination. And this might be thousands of miles away from home. Some providers advertise “transport to a medical facility near home” but this is more of an option and not a choice.

A “NO nearest appropriate medical facility limitation” makes the choice of where you are transported entirely your decision. 

Medical Necessity Requirement

This refers to prior doctor approval to air transportation. Again this is a decision that most likely rests in the discretion of your provider’s physician. A “No Medical Necessity Requirement” only requires that you be hospitalized to qualify for air transport.

Pre-existing Condition Clause

A pre-existing condition clause excuses your medical air transport provider when a member suffers from such ailment. A waiting period is usually required in order for members to qualify for the program. A “NO pre-existing condition” clause means that you get immediate protection.

Miles from home -Refers to the minimum distance from a member’s registered home before medical air transport could be availed.

Bed to bed service – coordinates member’s transport using aircraft or ground ambulance or a combination of both.

Emergency evacuation – a benefit often included in air transport services.

Commercial flight medical escort – a medical air transport option that uses commercial airlines for transferring members to another medical facility. Members are escorted by medical personnel during the flight. This is done when specialized aircraft is deemed unnecessary.

Number of transports in a year – minimum industry standards are one transport in a year. Multiple transports are also offered so be sure to check this feature with your provider. Limitation for number of transports include those for families or multiple transports in one occasion.


Air Fleet

25%

The backbone of any medical air transport service. This is what differentiates this type of service from ambulances or land-based emergency medical transport. Aircraft assets gives medical teams the ability to transport patients faster over longer distances.

The quality and number of aircraft largely depends on the company’s coverage area. This could run from a few states to multiple points across the globe. Aside from maintaining a fleet of aircraft that could cover multiple emergencies instantaneously, it should also possess a combination of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for responding to different situations.


Operations

10%

Pre-deployed aircraft or bases plays an important role in reducing response times. Some medical air transport companies are able to respond to medical emergencies faster by maintaining partnerships with different air carriers. Multiple bases does not only improve the availability of aircraft, pre-positioned personnel ensures qualified personnel will be able to respond to emergencies more quickly.


Medical Equipment

15%

Aircraft should be furnished with the best emergency medical equipment staffed by professional trained medical personnel. Pilot qualifications are also considered.


Geographic Coverage

15%

Medical air transport services are not only designed for answering domestic emergencies. This is especially useful for travelers abroad who are visiting countries that might not have the same level of medical expertise back home. This is an area of concern especially for members planning to travel abroad. It is essential that you sign up with a company that is capable of conducting medical air transport in those countries.


Customer Questions & Answers

What is Medical Air Transport?

Medical Air transport is a service that allows patients to be air lifted to and from medical facilities, while receiving care from trained medics. Because of the astronomical expense of these types of transfers ($10,000 and up), they’re typically only used in the most dire circumstances, after all other options have been exhausted, or when time is of the essence. For example, rescuing patients from the scene of an accident, or transporting patients from one hospital to another in order to receive specialized treatment.

What most people do not know is that many Medical Air Transport companies offer annual memberships, typically ranging from $70-$400 a year for an individual membership. Additionally, some companies will offer short-term protection for when you travel.

When would someone use a Medical Air Transport membership?

If you are a regular traveler, live far away and have to travel for healthcare, or are just looking for some extra protection in case of a medical emergency, a medical air transport may be a good option for you.

What is included with a Medical Air Transport membership?

Most companies offer at least one medical air transport a year for free or at an incredibly reduced price.

The more comprehensive memberships offer worldwide coverage (with some restrictions), handle all of the transportation arrangements for you, and will bring you to the hospital of your choice in your home country, regardless of the severity of your medical condition or how much it costs. While more limited memberships have regional restrictions, may fly you to the hospital of their choice, or have a limit to how much they'll cover, or limit the circumstances eligible for transport.

Do Medical Air Transport companies own their own aircrafts?

This depends on the company. Sometimes the company will own and operate its own fleet, while other times companies will work with partner air carriers to provide medical transportation services to their members.

But I have travel insurance, why would I want a Medical Air Transport membership as well?

When you are traveling and experience a medical emergency, your travel insurance may provide medical air transport, but typically it is to the closest hospital. The more comprehensive medical air transport memberships will bring you to the hospital of your choice. If you are abroad in a foreign country, this means you may have to pay more than $100,000 in order to be transported to your home country, but with the best medical air transport memberships, you’ll never see that bill.