When Generali Global Assistance (GGA) looked back at the medical transports it arranged both during the pandemic and the year before the pandemic, some interesting trends and statistics emerged.
GGA saw only an eight-per-cent decline in medical transports in 2020 versus 2019, which is obviously significantly lower than the 60-per-cent decline in world total passengers in 2020, according to data from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Of note is the fact that medical transport requests are increasing in 2021, however, analysis shows that volume will remain seven-per-cent lower than before the pandemic (2019).
Based on available data, it seems that air ambulance transports from locations lacking adequate medical facilities increased during the pandemic – this is hardly a great surprise given the lack of commercial flight availability, but it is important to note that air ambulances were there when payers needed their help to perform transportation missions. Almost six per cent of all medical transports performed by GGA in the past three years were within the US, which demonstrates the importance of the domestic patient transfer market.
Cost of medical transports falls
When it comes to the issue of money, GGA found that the cost of a medical transport flight (including evacuation and repatriation by commercial airline or air ambulance) remained relatively stable with a three-year average of US$22,780, trending slightly downward since 2019.
In 2020, the average cost of medical transport went down by five per cent, with a two per cent increase in 2021 – showing a net three-year drop of three per cent.
The cost of air ambulance transport went down by 26 per cent in 2020 versus 2019, while the number of air ambulance transports only decreased by five per cent.
A few of the most expensive transports undertaken by GGA include:
- In 2019, a $138,440 medical repatriation from Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China to Teterboro, New Jersey, US
- A $180,355 medical repatriation from Bangkok, Thailand to Guadalajara, Mexico in 2020
- A $124,800 medical repatriation from Diego Garcia, an island in the British Indian Ocean Territory, to Manila, Philippines is the current leader for 2021.
Location-specific data demonstrates that Bermuda was one of the top locations for medical evacuations over the past three years, and that Boston, Massachusetts was the top US city for GGA-performed medical repatriations from around the world.
As our data demonstrates, emergency medical transports did not significantly decrease during the pandemic.