JASPER, Tenn. — Since the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen bought a citywide membership in the AirMedCare Network just over a year ago, at least eight residents have saved tens of thousands of dollars in costs for air ambulance flights.
At the board's August meeting, Mayor Paul Evans thanked aldermen for approving the membership.
"To me, this has been a blessing to the town," he said.
Evans said one resident told him recently the bill for a flight was $34,000, but Jasper's membership covered the share of costs the person's insurance didn't.
"They didn't have to pay anything," he said.
Jasper pays about $9,750 per year for membership in the program.
"Everybody in the city limits of Jasper is covered under this policy [as long as the flight occurs inside Marion County]," Evans said. "Every household. But if you're out traveling to Chattanooga or you're going to a ballgame outside of Marion County, you're not covered under this, and I'm telling you, it can be expensive."
Evans said the "biggest thing" he wanted to emphasize to Jasper residents is that individuals and families can buy full membership coverage throughout the 34-state AirMedCare Network for just $35 a year.
"I have it just because I go to Chattanooga and go outside [the county] quite a bit for the town and for pleasure," Evans said.
He said he wanted to "reach out there and try to get as many people as possible to sign up" for the expanded coverage.
Right now, any household without a municipal site plan such as Jasper's can get a full membership for $65 a year.
Jimmy Morse, an AirMedCare representative, estimates the network will have services available in around 40 states with more than 250 bases soon.
"Hopefully, you never need it, but it's there on your worst day to defray the cost of the flight," he said.
Jasper residents with health insurance who are flown by air ambulance from within Marion County will "never see a bill," Morse said.
"If you don't have health insurance, you will receive a bill at the Medicare-allowable rate for the ZIP code," he said. "That $35 coverage will cover you. The program's been growing. It's over 30 years old, and it keeps on going that way."
Officials said expanded coverage forms will be available at city hall and Jasper residents should have already received mailers about the program.
"It is a good thing," Evans said. "I hope we can continue to do it. It's a great thing that we're offering to our people in Jasper."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at email@example.com.