A california couple, Matt and Kathleen Hoechlin were skiing in the Mammoth Lakes area when she hit a bump that caused a severe spinal injury to one of her vertebrae. However, the local hospital did not have everything needed to provide the level of medical care she needed.
After being transported to another facility 300 miles away to undergo 12-hour spine surgery, Kathleen began receiving phone calls from Flight Guardian, an airline that had taken them to hospital the day before. They had informed the Hoechlins that they owed a total of $97,269 for flight servicesand would continue to call daily for the next few months.
Initially, they remained calm assuming that their insurer Cignawould cover the cost of the ambulance flight, but they later discovered that the the company was considered off-gridwhich kept them from covering just over $17,000.
Matt, who had been discouraged by the incessant phone calls from the flight service company, had even contemplated bankruptcy at one point, before successfully negotiating the remaining $79,700. balance up to $20,000.
Thanks to the generosity of a GoFundMe campaign, depleted savings, gifts from family and friends, they were finally able to afford to pay off the debt balance. Although Kathleen is grateful that the bill is no longer an issue, she is still affected by the nearly hundred thousand dollar air ambulance ride she was trying to collect while still in her full cast.
For now, other patients with similar experiences are trying to figure out how something as necessary as a medical flight could potentially bankrupt people in need of life-saving care.