Med-Trans, Anthem Expected to Sign Contracts for Lifeguard - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Med-Trans, Anthem Expected to Sign Contracts This Week for Lifeguard Coverage

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The contract between Med-Trans and Anthem to make Lifeguard helicopter flights an in-network expense are expected to be signed this week.

As of last Thursday, Anthem patients are considered in-network for Lifeguard emergency transports. If a patient has an outstanding bill, he or she can expect a new one in the mail with an adjusted balance.

Anthem patients who have paid all or part of that bill for a trip to the hospital in a Lifeguard helicopter should call Med-Trans to have that fee evaluated.

"We want to engage with each one of the patients that has been affected by this out of network status on an individual basis," said Rob Hamilton, chief operating officer of Med-Trans.

Some people assume that if your insurance company doesn't have a contract with Med-Trans then you aren't covered in the case of an emergency. That isn't necessarily the case. All of the complaints that were registered for the high bills over the last year were from Anthem patients. The service was considered an out-of-network expense at that time.

Med-Trans says a contract isn't necessary with other companies because their reimbursement rates are higher.

In 2012, Lifeguard was in the air for 1,200 transports and the same number of flights is expected for this year.

Carilion Clinic tracks emergency flights. We were able to get a look at a chart, which shows that this year 97 percent of flights met criteria for helicopter transport and three percent did not.

"At the time when we are making the decision to fly, we don't have all of the things the hospital has, such as CAT scanners and other things," says Paul Davenport, vice president of Carilion Clinic Emergency Services. "Our over triage rate is very low."

Those hospital tests may show the situation is not as critical as first thought.

Anthem patients with Lifeguard flight billing questions should call 1-866-261-3032.