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New law could have air ambulance patients paying less

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- The state is stepping in, as having a medical crisis is nearly putting some in our region into bankruptcy.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase explains how a new law could protect you from paying up thousands of dollars for a life flight.

A flight to save a life.

"Wasn't myself. And then, I knew something wasn't right," says Jiry Rosecrans, patient.  

Comes at a steep price.

"Then she said no she's going by life flight. And then I'm thinking the helicopter?” says Bridget Rosecrans, mom.

Bridget's daughter Jiry is on chemo for a rare brain tumor.

That condition mixed with a stomach flu -- turned into a potentially deadly situation.

Bridget Rosecrans, "It was a crucial time. She didn't have that time to take an ambulance. She needed to get there extremely quick and they did it."

Patients like Jiry are regularly forced to fly out of rural areas in North Dakota to hospitals better able to treat their conditions.  

Some received bills of nearly one hundred thousand dollars for the service.

"We've seen reports from upwards of $20,000 to $60,000 bills that are being filed to our consumers. Again, even if you have health insurance," says Jon Godfread, ND Insurance Commissioner.

Now, the state is stepping in.

This is the law that took effect just days ago -- changing the way air ambulance services bill you.

Beginning this week in North Dakota, you will be charged an average of what people in the area pay.

In some cases, as low as your insurance deductible.

Bridget Rosecrans, "Hopefully it can be more affordable for those individuals that are going to need it but not be a deterrent for them to not get better care."

Saving lives and dimes.

If you are charged with an air ambulance bill, you should contact your insurance company before paying any bill.