The towns of Edisto Beach, McClellanville and Kiawah Island are providing a new benefit for full-time residents — helicopter transport to a hospital without the financial worries.
The Edisto Beach Town Council agreed to pay about $5,000 for a year-long agreement with AirMedCare to accept whatever a resident’s medical insurer allows as payment for air transport, said Mayor Jane Darby.
McClellanville Mayor Rutledge Leland said Town Council voted in favor of paying $2,300 for the same program.
“It just sounded like an awfully good deal. The council jumped right on it. It basically covers the whole town for a small amount of money,” Leland said.
Kiawah Island Town Council paid $8,000 for its AirMedCare agreement.
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“The cost was low and because it’s not uncommon that a resident can be transported, we thought it was something that we would try,” said Councilman Craig Weaver, chairman of the Kiawah Public Safety Committee.
Uninsured residents are billed at the Medicare-allowed rate, and tourists and daytrippers are not included in the program, officials said.
The air ambulance cost agreement for McClellanville, Kiawah and Edisto Beach applies to residents if they need to be evacuated to a hospital from anywhere in the county, officials said.
Jim Ritchie, executive director of the S.C. Alliance of Health Plans, said the program is an innovative solution to address the needs of rural populations and to give residents peace of mind.
Usually, health insurance plans have a cap on what is paid for air ambulance transport, he said.