The faces in the photograph Karl was viewing on Facebook looked vaguely familiar. It struck him he knew their names, but he couldn’t quite bring them to mind. When reading the post, he was astounded to note that his FB friend had used the wrong word in several places. Ken felt dizzy and disoriented. He stared at the picture again and this time called up a couple of names. He reread the text and realized the “typos” had been in his brain rather than on the screen. Suddenly, Ken had a severe headache and when he got up from the computer, his balance was off.

When Karl told his wife, Sara, what was happening, she insisted they go immediately to the emergency room at the local hospital. Karl was examined and tests were run which indicated Karl was having a stroke and needed to be evacuated to a hospital with a certified comprehensive stroke center.

Karl and Sara had intended to sign up with one of the care flight services, but had never gotten around to it. That meant that they had to pay the full cost of Karl’s flight to the nearest stroke center.     

The scenario described above can happen to anyone, but seniors are especially vulnerable to health conditions that require being helicoptered to a specialty hospital for care. Medicare does not cover the cost of this service, nor do many private insurance policies. Making contingency plans to avoid the full cost of this type emergency is essential.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) states that the average cost of one air ambulance flight is 52 miles and costs between $12,000.00 and $25,000.00. Service from Glen Rose to Fort Worth or Dallas can run between $50,000.00 and $75,000.00, according to local health care providers.

In contrast to the major expense of paying for care flight, insurance through membership in the providers of these services, is relatively inexpensive. Families should determine the companies with whom their local hospital contracts for emergency flight services. Glen Rose Medical Center uses both Air Evac Lifeteam and Careflight. It is best to obtain coverage with both services to be protected in case one carrier is already in service, and the other must be used.

Information about subscriptions to the plans for Air Evac Lifeteam can be obtained by phone at (800) 793-0010 or online at www.airmedcarenetwork.com and for Careflight by phone at (877) 339-2273 or online at www.careflight.org.

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.