Air Medical Group poised to control medevac services in Hawaii

Hawaii’s two air ambulance companies could soon have the same owner.

Air Medical Group Holdings, which owns Hawaii Life Flight, announced it has agreed to acquire American Medical Response, owner of AMR Air Hawaii for $2.4 billion.

“AMGH and AMR are preeminent providers of medical transportation responsible for delivering care to millions of patients every year,” said Jim Momtazee, Chairman of AMGH. We are pleased to be able to bring together these two great companies and look forward to supporting the growth of the combined business.”

The sale, if approved by the Federal Trade Commission, would create a monopoly in Hawaii, which could potentially drive up prices.

AMR charges significantly less than Hawaii Life Flight. For emergency transportation from Hilo to Oahu in December 2013, Hawaii Life Flight charged over $70,000 while AMR charged about $20,000. The companies had similar base rates of $16,000 and $14,000 respectively, but Hawaii Life Flight charged $219 per mile while AMR charged only $25 per mile.

Last year, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan sued Hawaii Life Flight, claiming the company charged rates much higher than AMR Air Hawaii. The year before, a class action complaint was filed against Kaiser. Lead plaintiff Toby Sidlo was left with a $36,000 balance even though his Kaiser policy said it would cover 80 percent of the cost of medically necessary emergency transportation services, which he received from Hawaii Life Flight.

States are unable to regulate medevac rates, allowing carriers to set their own rates.

At this time, neither company has announced changes to rates or service areas.