The North American air ambulance services market witnessed significant growth and is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 12.1% during the forecast period (2023-2031)
Air ambulances are fixed-wing or rotor-wind planes or helicopters with medical equipment and an intensive care unit that can reach medical emergencies, patient transfers, and critical rescue operations that ground vehicles cannot.
North America’s strong healthcare infrastructure and technical improvements facilitate expanding air ambulance services. Moreover, the increased incidence of chronic illnesses and an aging population increase the demand for emergency medical transportation. Furthermore, the large geographic breadth of North America and the requirement to deliver quick medical help to isolated and rural locations fuel market expansion.
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Patients travel worldwide to seek specialist medical treatments in North America, making it a popular destination for medical tourism. This has increased the demand for air ambulance services since patients frequently require prompt and efficient transfer to nearby medical institutions. REVA Air Ambulance, a well-known North American air ambulance operator, provides medical transportation services for overseas patients seeking medical care in the United States. They facilitate a smooth and safe movement for medical tourists by coordinating seamlessly between medical institutions, ground transportation, and air transportation.
Air ambulance delivery expenses include aircraft operations, maintenance, fuel, medical equipment, and skilled medical staff. Patients, insurance companies, and healthcare systems pay for these fees, raising air ambulance costs. Air ambulance transports in the U.S. can cost USD 10,000 to USD 50,000 or more, depending on distance and treatment. For uninsured or underinsured people, this high cost might be financially challenging. A 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis found that air ambulance transfers cost over USD 36,400. According to the same report, air ambulance services cost patients over USD 50,000. Air ambulance pricing may deter consumers from using them or delay their decision, hurting emergency patient outcomes.
Technological developments have dramatically enhanced North America's air ambulance services' capability and quality. For example, incorporating modern medical equipment, such as portable ventilators, heart monitors, and telemedicine systems, enables air ambulance teams to deliver high-level medical care while in flight. These technology developments allow for real-time connection with healthcare experts on the ground, ensuring that patients receive the best possible treatment during their journey. Air Methods Corporation, one of North America's major air medical transportation businesses, outfits its air ambulances with cutting-edge medical technology. They have cutting-edge technology, including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines, point-of-care testing devices, and video laryngoscopes, which allow their medical personnel to perform critical care services while flying.
The North America air ambulance services market is divided into three countries: the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The U.S. is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.1% during the forecast period.
North America is controlled by big air ambulance operators that are expanding their operations to satisfy rising patient demand. For example, AirCare1 will add a Learjet 60 to its fleet of air ambulances in December 2020. The plane is designed to deliver emergency medical services throughout North, South, and Central America. AirMed International added a Hawker 800XP to its medical aircraft fleet in May 2020, allowing bedside-to-bedside transportation of patients in the United States and overseas. Another reason individuals choose air ambulances in North America is that developed economies have good reimbursement regulations for air ambulance services. North America is characterized by increased collaboration among major players in the air ambulance industry to improve accessibility and deliver excellent care to patients to raise their chances of survival. For example, in April 2020, Life Flight Network, a medical air transport provider in the United States, teamed with Montana Health CO-OP and Idaho's Mountain Health CO-OP to deliver Life Flight Network's air medical services to members across Idaho and Montana states.
The United States is expected to have the biggest share, while Canada will expand at the fastest CAGR throughout the forecast period. According to the Association of Air Medical Services, air ambulance service is used by over 550,000 patients in the United States each year. The aging population and changes in rural healthcare systems drive U.S. air ambulance sector development. In 2018, the United States maintained 960 rotary-wing air medical bases with 1,111 helicopters, according to the Atlas and Database of Air Medical Services (ADAMS). The growing urban population and the country's increased R&D spending on sophisticated passenger drones are helping the North American air ambulance business in this area.
The Canadian federal government oversees national standards and finances. The 13 Canadian provinces and territories provide health care. Canadians with valid health cards can get free health care from 13 provincial and territorial health insurance systems. The Canada Health Act does not cover air ambulance services. However, Simpson Group travel insurance covers some helicopter ambulance services.
North American air ambulances are well-equipped and sponsored by the government, hospitals, and independent service companies to transfer critically ill patients. Air medical services are also in demand due to technology improvements in the U.S. and Canada and growing knowledge of superior medical facilities and diagnostic alternatives at affordable prices in Mexico.
The North America air ambulance services market is segmented based on type, application, and country.
The market is further segmented by type into Rotary wing and fixed wing.
The rotary wing contributes a major market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.6% during the forecast period.
Rotary wing aircraft are mostly helicopters, often employed in medical transportation for short distances that must be finished swiftly. As a result, helicopters are widely used in emergency response services across the world. Their capacity to land practically anywhere makes them valuable when a ground ambulance struggles to reach the patient. Because of their low fuel capacity, rotary-winged aircraft have a disadvantage when flying long distances.
Fixed-wing aircraft include those that are propeller-driven or jet-engine-powered and have fixed wings. These are more commonly used for long-distance travel, as they often need refueling. Fixed-wing aircraft are extensively used in the medical tourism sector and for transporting critical patients to an appropriate healthcare center for specialized treatment.
The market is further segmented into Hospital-based and community-based by application.
Community-based holds a major market share and is expected to register a CAGR of 12.1% over the forecast period.
Community-based operations will likely account for a sizable portion of the air ambulance industry since they better understand demand in their immediate surroundings. Most businesses in the sector are community-based or charity-run groups that generate cash through local fundraisers. Members contributing to the fundraising receive substantial perks while using air medical transport services.
Hospital-based services are air ambulances healthcare facilities use to transfer patients, attend to emergency outside patients, and conduct organ donation missions, among other things. They can be government-funded or private-hospital-funded services, with the cost of transportation payable in addition to the patient's treatment expenditures. Hospital-based services have grown in popularity over the last decade. Still, they have lately discovered that it is far more cost-effective to contract a private air ambulance operator rather than invest in owning and maintaining aircraft.