Does Medicare pay anything for emergency air flights?

Jo highsmith asked...

Does Medicare pay anything for emergency air flights?

Expert Answer

In some limited circumstances, it can. Medicare Part B can cover most of the cost of an ambulance -- including an air ambulance in very limited circumstances -- if you have a medical emergency that puts your health in serious danger and that needs immediate medical attention. Whether Medicare actually covers ambulance transport depend on the seriousness of the situation and whether you could be safely transported without an ambulance. This Medicare emergency transport coverage can include emergency transportation in an airplane or helicopter if your condition requires immediate and rapid ambulance travel that a ground ambulance couldn't provide.

But even if Medicare will cover an air ambulance, it won't cover transportation anywhere you want to go. It only covers ambulance services, of any kind, to the nearest medical facility that can give you the care you need. If you want to be transported to another facility, Medicare will only pay what the cost would have been to travel to the closest facility that could have provided you with care.

To find out more about the circumstances in which Medicare will cover emergency ambulance transportation, including air transport, see the Medicare booklet Medicare Coverage of Ambulance Services