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The Air Ambulance and Small Towns

There is a lot of debate on the expansion of our industry over the last three decades. Since we started, the air ambulance industry has exploded, with many helicopter and fixed-winged operations springing up almost overnight. What has led to the growth of the air ambulance industry? Several factors, including costs. But in a free-market supply and demand are always the number one factor in growth.

One of the reasons why demand for an air ambulance has been on the rise is because of the closures of small town hospitals. Small towns used to be outfitted with hospitals all over the country, however many factors have led to the dwindling of rural hospitals all over the country.

According to a story published last year by US News & World Report, over 40 small town hospitals have shut down in the United States since 2010. There is also an estimated 300 hospitals that are in danger of shutting down at some point within the next several years.

Several factors are contributing to the shut down of these hospitals. Demographic changes are the leading cause of rural hospital struggles. As more people leave small, rural towns the need for health care is diminished. The problem with demographic shifts is it is usually younger people who leave these small towns. Small towns then are left with an aging population, who is more likely to need immediate access to health care, without anywhere to go.

Political factors are also leading to hospitals closing their doors. The majority of the hospitals have shut down in southern states, which are some of the most unhealthiest in the nation. This is in part because many of those states are refusing the Medicare expansion that launched with Obamacare. The new law also hurts hospitals who help those who are uninsured. Medicaid now pays less to reimburse hospitals who treat uninsured patients, in part because the law banked on states accepting expanded Medicare.

Rural hospitals closing is not a recent phenomenon either. It has been a problem since the 1980s and in that decade as well as the 1990s the federal government offered some help to save hospitals. However many experts believe that help provided only temporary relief.

The air ambulance industry, therefore, is a continued need in these small towns. Like the expanding minute clinics that have been moving into smaller towns, the air ambulance industry continues to reach out to areas left behind by the medical community. Helicopters can provide instant help for anyone who has an emergency. Fixed-wing air ambulance services can be provided for someone who needs to find long term care. If you are in an area with no hospital and in need of care, please contract us to ask how we can help you in your time of need.

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