Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Air Methods Corp. hit with sixth lawsuit claiming price gouging

Centennial-based Air Methods Corp., the nation’s largest air ambulance company, was hit last week with the sixth lawsuit since 2015 alleging that it overcharges patients.

In a complaint filed Nov. 4, a Pennsylvania man injured in a car accident claims that publicly traded Air Methods Corp. billed him 400 percent more than what competitors would have charged for the same flight.

And, he says, Air Methods has exploited thousands of patients like him.

“Instead of charging patients a uniform, customary, and reasonable rate, Defendants charge outrageous prices that bear no reasonable relationship to the services rendered or what is customarily charged for the services,” said the complaint in U.S. district court, which also names a related company, Rocky Mountain Holdings, as a defendant.

Air Methods Corp. lately has wrestled in court with patients who refuse to pay steep bills, even as the company’s revenue has surged 64 percent in five years, to $1.09 billion in 2015, according to its most recent annual report.

Since April 2015, Air Methods has faced at least six putative class actions from patients, according to a tally of court cases mentioned in prior media reports and court records reviewed by BusinessDen. In a putative class action, a single plaintiff or group of plaintiffs claim to represent a class of people that has been injured and ask a judge to certify that status.

In the lawsuit filed in Colorado last week, Air Methods allegedly billed the plaintiff, Jeremy Scarlett, nearly $47,000 for a 30-mile flight to a Pennsylvania hospital. Scarlett claims he was also asked to sign a document transferring his right to insurance payouts to Air Methods and compelling him to pay the difference out of pocket.

Scarlett is being represented by attorneys Mitchell Baker in Denver, Jonathan Shub of Kohn Swift & Graf in Philadelphia, and Troy M. Frederick of Marcus & Mack in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Scarlett’s legal counsel did not respond to messages seeking comment.

In another proposed class action filed in October, an Alabama woman received a $52,000 invoice from Air Methods after the operator transported her, unconscious, from the scene of a car accident. Her insurance reimbursed her for less than $9,500.

Bills in the air ambulance industry have skyrocketed in recent years. 

The Colorado lawsuit claims that the average bill from Air Methods tripled from $13,198 in 2007 to $40,766 in 2014. 

Read more here:  http://www.businessden.com

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