Cheap medical flights for medical evacuation/repatriation: myth or reality?

Respiratory distress, polytrauma, fractures, strokes or heart attacks are all common reasons globetrotters need emergency medical assistance. If you are traveling abroad and suffer from one of these health issues or any other illness or injury requiring immediate, emergency treatment, the first thing you should do is request a local ambulance. The very next thing you need to do is call Medical Air Service! However, travelers may be reluctant to use the services of a flight ambulance company. The reason for this is that international  air medical transportation has its set of costs. Read on to learn more about what makes up, and how to cover, the cost of our medical flights, whether cheaper alternatives exist, and how to save money while traveling with us.

Why might you be looking for cheap medical flights?

Experiencing health issues, whether serious or minor, in a foreign country is a particularly stressful situation. This often leads vacationers to want to return home, to be close to their families, but not only. Indeed, when the health system in the country they are staying in is precarious or when the cost of available treatments threatens to blow a hole in their budget, returning home is frequently the best option.

Of course, repatriation/evacuation for medical reasons is sometimes possible via scheduled commercial flights, which allows for the least amount of money to be spent. However, ordinary airlines rarely accept critically ill or injured passengers, and categorically refuse those infected or showing symptoms of Covid-19. The reason for this is that they are frequently ill-equipped or inexperienced in dealing with most in-flight emergencies. In such cases, the most logical alternative will be to look for the cheapest medical flights. But as the saying goes, the cheaper option is always the one that ends up costing more!

That is why Medical Air Service would like to explain the elements involved when calculating the cost of a medical repatriation or evacuation. And as an added bonus, we offer you some valuable tips on how you can save the most money while still receiving high-quality services.

ambulance jet

How much do air ambulances cost?

If it is not uncommon to think that a round trip business class flight to a distant or exotic destination costs a fortune, imagine what is involved in booking a plane, plus the necessary medical equipment, for just one patient. Having said that, medical air transportation is almost never cheap when compared to a regular flight.

Nonetheless, every situation is unique, and each medical flight has its own set of expenses. For the sake of transparency, Medical Air Service wishes to point out that the cost of long-distance air ambulance repatriations or medevac flights is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • the patient's mental and physical health, particularly
  • the severity of his medical emergency;
  • his location and country of destination or
  • the medical equipment and personnel to be transported on board in accordance with his personal needs.

Other factors, for example, if the patient’s injuries are particularly severe or if he is stranded in a remote area of a developing country, could eventually increase the costs .

Aside from these variables, it is important to note that the prices of Medical Air Service are not fixed or predetermined. In fact, we provide quotes on a case-by-case basis, based on your needs, in order to avoid charging you for services or equipment that you did not request or that are not required for your medical transport. In the end, you only pay for what you need!

How to minimize medical air transport costs?

When it comes to minimizing the cost of your medical transportation, minor details can make a big difference.

The first is to be flexible when it comes to confirming the day and time of your flight via one of our medical aircraft. While it is perfectly understandable that you would like to get home as soon as possible to receive the appropriate treatment, biding your time can save you a lot of money. Indeed, by booking one of our emergency flights on the same day, our logistics team will be forced to equip a plane and organise a team, wherever they are, which could be quite far from your destination, thus costing you a lot of money. On the other hand, by booking your flight ahead of time, you allow us to find the best route and use a plane that is closer to your destination.

life flight costs

Similarly, chartering a small jet rather than a Boeing, choosing to be accompanied by only one family member, or even your doctor, can significantly reduce the bill. Also, consider getting treatment in a country close to where you are on vacation to cut costs associated with the length of the journey or fuel consumption.

In all scenarios, flying on a commercial airline with a medical escort, and even purchasing more seats, is far less expensive than using a medical flight. Our medical escorts can keep an eye on your condition and administer medication or IV fluids if necessary. Again, this is only possible if the patient is not too sick to endure the rigors of a commercial flight.

How to cover the cost of your medical flight?

It is wise to secure travel or health insurance that covers the cost of returning home by air ambulance following an injury or illness in a foreign country. It may even be prudent to protect yourself with the most comprehensive coverage available. And if you travel frequently, getting a yearly policy is a good idea.

However, when it comes to these kinds of insurances, caution is advised. Indeed, the terms and conditions of your contract can be perplexing. This is why we strongly recommend that you contact your insurance company before leaving for a foreign country in order to ensure that your medical repatriation or evacuation will be covered if necessary. That being said, in addition to conditions that differ from one insurance company to the next, some may consider that your request does not match their definition of medical emergency or may simply not deal with the ambulance flight company you wish to fly with.

If your medical transportation is only partially or not at all covered, consider crowdfunding as an alternative to paying for it yourself. Crowdfunding literally means "crowd funding." This means you can raise funds from the general public to cover the cost of your medical repatriation/evacuation. These fundraising efforts are now carried out via web platforms, which act as a medium to connect you with good Samaritans who are moved by your situation and eager to help you. Of course, crowdfunding does not replace health or travel insurance, but it is a new way of quickly raising funds.

Do you want to know if crowdfunding really works? Let us tell you more about the work of organisations like the Global Autism Project. They have raised more than $2.1 million by encouraging cybernauts to use online peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, and they are not slowing down anytime soon. Read more about successful crowdfunding stories here.

Is the cost of an air ambulance worth the cost of a life? It is without a doubt that medical flights do in fact contribute in saving lives and alleviate the consequences of accidents and illnesses. In such cases, it is preferable to pay out of pocket rather than to pay with your life.

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Our communications centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact us now for more information on the cost of your medical repatriation or to schedule an air ambulance flight right away:


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