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Top Travel Destinations for 2015

1427747_81568950Winter’s tight grip on us all is coming to an end (soon we hope) which means the height of travel season is upon us. If you are planning on a trip, but aren’t sure where to go, we have some helpful tips from the experts. Travel is one of the best ways to truly get to know other cultures and there are a lot of popular destinations to choose from.

Corsica

According to National Geographic this Mediterranean island has been under the control of the French since 1769. But with both Italian and French influences, there is a lot of beauty and culture to take in. Corsica has some of the most beautiful, untouched mountain ranges with quiet little villages. If you love the outdoors you will love Corsica, which is about 40% protected land filled with hiking trails and large oak and pine forests. Bonifacio is the top tourist town in Corsica because it offers unbelievable cliff views of the sunrise.

Catskills, NY

If you’re looking domestically, think about taking a trip to the Catskills. This part of New York covers a wide part of the state, with stylish and elegant bread and breakfasts scattered throughout. Visiting the Catskills is one of the best romantic getaways in the United States. There are so many area farms that you’ll have to try to NOT find local food used in the restaurants. Think a lovely week of fly fishing, going antiquing and tasting some wonderful micro-brews. Plus the Catskills is home to Yasgur’s Farm, the host of Woodstock.

Budapest

Budapest offers a different sense of culture in central Europe. One reason why Budapest is a popular option is it caters to the many. You can find everything from affordable hostels to the most elegant hotels in Europe in Budapest. Budapest is for anyone who loves culture, with the Szepmuveszeti Muzeum (Museum of Fine Arts) attracting millions each year. The Hungarian National Gallery focuses on art that dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. Break up trips to museums by spending a day in one of Budapest’s popular thermal baths.

Abisko, Sweden

Abisko’s main draw is the northern lights. On the right day you can get a glimpse of this wonder of nature as far south as Scotland. But if you really want to take in this rare natural wonder head to the Aurora Skystation in Abisko. The station is located only 200km from the Arctic Circle, so dress warm. Really, really warm. Try to visit in the winter to maximize the view. Long winter nights are the perfect time to view the northern lights. Mountains help block out any light pollution in Abisko.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata is on the Dominican Republic’s northern beaches. If you love the beach but hate the crowds that come with it, Puerto Plata is the place for you. Several new resorts have opened with more work planned in 2015 which means it is a still to be discovered paradise. You can find private bedroom apartments to rent that look more like penthouses. Puerto Plata is the perfect place to go if you want to avoid tourists traps, get a heavy dose of culture and have a private vacation in an area that prides itself on luxury.


Air Ambulance Rate Improvement Bill in Senate

air-ambulanceThe United States Senate is looking at ways to improve the ways air ambulance companies are paid. The effort is intended to help air ambulance reliability in rural areas by ensuring the air ambulance company is paid a fair rate. The bill, introduced in the Senate by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and five other members of Congress, is exciting for anyone in the air ambulance industry.

The bill, if passed, would provide more stability to air ambulance services. The Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 745) would end uncertainty that some air ambulance providers face when being reimbursed for their services. According to Rep. Walden two studies conducted in 2007 and 2012 found Medicare is reimbursing some air ambulance companies below the cost of the service. This is especially true in rural areas, where the costs are higher for the services.

Under current law Congress has to pass temporary legislative fixes so air ambulance companies can receive higher rates. Because the relief is temporary, availability of an air ambulance is threatened all over the country each time the rate adjustments are about to expire. Because so many people in remote areas depend on air ambulance services, the need for stability in the funding for the services is vital.

The Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015 would provide permanent fixes by giving air ambulance providers a 2-percent payment increase in urban areas and a 3-percent payment increase in rural areas. Areas designated as “super rural” would receive a bonus payment.

The bill also implements anti-fraud measures that aim to curb abuse of air ambulance services. The bill, if passed, would build on the existing prior authorization programs that are in place in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

The new law would institute 60-day advanced authorizations for air ambulance transports throughout the country for end-stage renal disease to and from dialysis facilities. A study by the CMS Inspector General in 2013 found the increases in these transfers were a breeding ground for abuse and fraud. Preventing fraud ensures the proper funding for Medicare services and will help pay for the law.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Walden on February 4th. Currently the bill has bipartisan support. For more information about  The Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015, click here.

Stay up to date on the progress of H.R. 745 by clicking here.

For more information about Travel Care’s air ambulance services for your needs, and for more air ambulance news, follow us on Twitter.


How an Air Ambulance Helps Trauma Victims

air-ambulanceWe have written many times before about the benefits to using an air ambulance to save lives. An air ambulance, in many situations, can help save a life by providing quicker services than traditional ambulances. When it comes to trauma victims the time factor is even more important.

The “Golden Hour” is an industry term that highlights the importance of reaching trauma victims within the first hour. Studies have shown a better survival rate in trauma victims who receive help within the first hour after suffering the injury. An air ambulance can factor heavily into helping during the “Golden Hour.” If a trauma victim suffers the injury in a remote or rural area an air ambulance can be brought in to quickly start applying medical care.

The air ambulance can also reach a trauma victim if roads are impassable, or if there are no roads to begin with. Skiing or snowmobile accidents are prime examples of how an air ambulance can access areas traditional transportation can’t. The American Medical Association recently found that people transported to a trauma center via an air ambulance had a 16 percent greater chance of survival.

Another study by the National Association of State EMS Officials supports using an air ambulance for trauma victims. The study found that 81.4 million people have been helped during the “Golden Hour” by an air ambulance that otherwise would not have received proper care.

The State of Arizona took the air ambulance study even further. From January 2005 through December 2008 the Arizona Department of Health Services did a comprehensive look at how effective an air ambulance can be for trauma survival. 14 trauma centers took part in the study, which looked at severity of injuries and survival rates, among other factors.

The study found those transported via an air ambulance had a probability of survival of 88 percent. Of those patients, over half (55 percent) had an injury severity score of greater or equal to 15. The injury severity score measured how serious the injuries were, based on traditional trauma calculation methods. Nearly half of the patients (43 percent) transported via air ambulance went home within 24 hours.

An air ambulance can also be used in non-immediate situations for trauma victims. Trauma patients may also need an air ambulance well after the accident. In a lot of cases trauma victims in different countries will want to return home to help the recovery process. Being around family and friends creates a much needed support system.

Travel Care Air provides safe and reliable air ambulance transports all over the world. If you, or a loved one are recovering from a trauma injury we can bring them home as fast as you need us. Our services are available any day and any time. We don’t take time off because we know injuries can happen at a moment’s notice. For more information please follow us on Twitter.


February Highlights American Heart Health

American-heart-monthJanuary has come and gone and that means Americans can turn their attention to improving their heart health. February has been designated, among other things, as “American Heart Month.” Sure it may be a cheesy way to piggyback off of Valentine’s Day, but highlighting heart health is especially important in the United States.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of both women and men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). One in four deaths this year will be heart-related. The disease can range from stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. Not only is it the largest killer in America, it is also the leading cause for disability in our nation. The CDC estimates that Cardiovascular disease in all its forms costs the United States about $300 billion a year. Those costs include health care costs, lost productivity on the economy and other medical costs (such as medicines).

The CDC reports that race has a large impact on who is affected by Cardiovascular disease. Nearly half (44% of men and 48% of women) of all African Americans will have some form of the disease in their lifetimes. African Americans (two in five) are also more likely than any other group to have high blood pressure earlier in life.

Typically Cardiovascular illness can be prevented through living healthier. Both the individual as well as the community need to work together to ensure the best possible health. From making the right choices when we go shopping, to encouraging schools to reduce sugary or fatty foods, there are so many options to improve your health as well as the health of people around you. Drinking less and stopping smoking all together are other ways to limit the disease.

Aside from diet, there are other small steps you can take to improve your heart health. Movement is key and you should exercise at least three times per week. Take up a favorite sport like basketball or swimming, or take a stroll around the neighborhood. You’re more likely to have success if you can find someone to be active with.

Stress is also a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. If you have had worries, feelings of depression or have had trouble with concentration you may be suffering from stress. Usually sudden life changes bring on the most stress like death or money problems, but even good things that happen, like a job promotion, can add to stress. Physical activity is a good stress reducer, but other changes like eating better will help reduce stress. Other people have shown improvement by using meditation. In more serious cases stress can be reduced by talking to a mental health professional and medicines.

Don’t forget to spread the awareness about cardiovascular disease all month long. The more people are aware of how deadly heart-related diseases can be, the more educated they can be on avoiding making bad choices. For more health tips, travel news and more, follow us on Twitter.


Tracking Down Lost Luggage

ID-100255258One of the most frustrating things about airline travel is when luggage is lost. The good news is nearly 98 percent of all lost luggage is eventually tracked down and returned to the owner. But the process can still be frustrating and take several days to be resolved, leaving you without your important items you needed to travel. There are steps you can take to become more informed about what to do when an airline loses your luggage so you can speed up the recovery process.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when an airline loses your luggage is leaving the airport. Sometimes frustrations, combined with the wariness of travel can cause someone to give up and go home if they don’t see their luggage in the carousel. Never leave, and immediately track down a representative from the airline you used to travel.

File a report at the airport instead of trying to call on the phone. It’s quicker and you can get more immediate results. Typically airlines will allow up to 24 hours to file a missing luggage report, but for some there is a limit of only a few hours. If the bags went to another flight you can have them within a few hours. If they went to the wrong airport, it can take a few days. Typically the airline will bring the bags to you so you don’t have to return to the airport.

Never discard your plane tickets until you have your luggage in your hand. If you need to track down missing luggage you will need to present your tickets to the airline representative. Airlines use your tickets as a starting point to tracking down your luggage. You may also receive specific tracking numbers for each piece of checked luggage. You’ll also need to provide specific information about your luggage, like color, shape, size, etc.

You should also be on the look out for duplicate luggage. Common suitcases may increase the chance that your luggage could be picked up by mistake by someone else on your flight. If you find yourself at the carousel after all the other passengers on your flight, be on the look out for luggage that looks like yours, or have similar qualities. Your travel carrier may be able to use the information on that luggage to track down the person who picked up your luggage accidentally.

Last but not least, when talking to airline staff, always be polite. Try to remain patient no matter how frustrated you may be. You can ask anyone that works with the public. Staff are always more likely to go the extra mile for you if you are easy to deal with and kind.


Airplane Delay Survival Tips

airport-delayWe are in the heart of winter, which is the most common season for flight delays. Winter storms can affect flights no matter where you are traveling to, or from. It can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you have to complete rearrange your schedule. However there are ways you can cope with the stress of being stuck in an airport.

1. Travel Insurance

We’ve talked about the importance of travel insurance for air ambulances, but travel insurance can also help save you cash if you are stuck in a storm. In some cases travel insurance will help cover the costs of your un-planned stay, including food and accommodations. Talk with your insurance provider if you are traveling somewhere that sees frequent storms in the winter.

2. Plan for Your Delay

Stay on top of the current weather and pack for any potential delays. Check flight schedules before you leave for the airport. Even if there is a slim chance you’ll get stuck it is still a good idea to be prepared. Bring extra items to keep you entertained like books, tablets, DVDs, etc. Pick up snacks at the grocery store to save a bundle on expensive airport food. And bring a blanket if you plan on staying at the airport overnight. Sometimes airports will provide pillows and blankets for those stranded, but having a small comfort from home will help you relax better.

3. Pick Your Airport Wisely

Some airports are better at handling delays then others. If you have the choice between multiple airports in an area try to book a flight at the airport with the most runways. More runways means the airport will be up and running faster and is more likely to close on time. Also, check possible connecting flights. You’re more likely to have a delay in the winter if you have a connection through Chicago over other popular connecting hubs like Atlanta or Dallas.

4. Find Out About Change Fees

If a storm is serious enough some airlines will waive a change fee to book a different flight. Some airlines don’t charge a fee at all. The point: Every airline is different so it’s important to find out if you’ll be charged a fee. If you’re flexible some airlines may even offer you incentives if you change your flight to help out fellow passengers.

5. Don’t Take it Out on the Staff

Bad weather takes its toll on airport and airline staff as well. They didn’t cause you to be delayed so don’t take it out on them. Be calm and try to relax and trust the airline will do whatever they can to help you go where you need to go as soon as it’s safe to do so. Keep important info like booking numbers and tickets handy to keep the line moving. While you wait, don’t just talk to the staff. Research other travel options on different travel websites to try to make sure you’re getting the best, and fastest, deal on a new flight.


Should Travel Alerts Affect Your Trip?

travel-alertsIf you have been planning for months, or years for an important international trip, or if you are required to travel for business, a travel alert issued by the government can be a huge clog in your planning. The government issues a travel alert for “short term events we think you should know about” and a travel warning when it’s important “to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all.” Travel alerts and travel warnings are pause for concern, but should you cancel your trip?

When traveling your safety should be your number one priority. Travel alerts are typically issued for short term reasons like a illness outbreak or natural disaster. Travel warnings are much more long-term and can last for several years, or until a situation changes. Warnings are typically the results of political upheaval. Odds are, you aren’t planning a trip to Syria, for example. But not all travel warnings should cancel you trip.

When evaluating whether or not to travel find out if the entire country is affected by what advisory. Typically any natural disaster or violence are confined to a particular area of a country and the rest of the country is totally safe. An outside example of this is a foreign country issuing travel advisories for anyone thinking about visiting the Gulf Coast in the USA during hurricane season.

You should also check different nations to cross-reference the alerts. Sometimes countries will issue travel restrictions based solely on political motivations. Check multiple government and organizational travel advisories. If you see the alert posted on more than a couple you should take those advisories extra seriously.

Travel warnings dealing with terrorism should be closely followed. Pay attention to who is being targeted on the attacks. If an attack is focused on foreigners that should raise an obvious red flag to stay away from the region. If the targets are for religious or political reasons make sure you don’t fit any stereotypes that terrorists may use to target people. Again, research any parts of countries you plan on visiting. There is a big difference between traveling to certain Middle-Eastern countries, for example, some of which are allies and very westernized.

Traveling is areas that have alerts or warnings could have a potential impact on your insurance. Depending on the situation and the details of your plan some benefits can be in place for traveling in suspect situations, while other parts of your plan may be voided because of the dangers associated with your travel.

Medical benefits can be affected by this and insurance companies will usually make special announcements about how advisories will affect plans. For example, medical plans for travel cover acts of terrorism but the benefits can be voided if a travel advisory has been issued. It’s very important to talk with your insurance adviser before taking any trip if there are advisories out for the country you plan to visit.

If you plan to ignore advisories at all cost and travel the least you should consider is whether or not the country has a US Embassy or consulate. Both of these places will offer refuge for you should you find yourself in a dangerous situation and will work with you to bring you home. You should also alert family and friends of your travel plans so they can reach out to an embassy or consulate if needed.


Medicare Air Ambulances Coverage

air-ambulancesIf you are on Medicare understanding what is covered for air ambulances can be confusing. Depending on the situation and the type of Medicare will determine what, if any, coverages you will have for air ambulances. Navigating the Medicare air ambulances information can be time consuming but our guide will help you start the complicated process.

Medicare Part B covers air ambulances under certain emergency conditions. Air ambulances are covered if you are injured and require immediate ambulance transportation that can’t be provided by a ground ambulance. Examples of this situation is if you are in a remote area not easily accessed by ground, or if you are in a traffic accident and ground ambulances can’t make it through heavy traffic.

Typically Medicare Part B only covers air ambulances in times of immediate emergency. You may get some limited coverage in a few non-emergency situations. If air ambulances are your only option because another form of transportation could endanger your life, you would be covered. You’ll also have limited coverage if you need air ambulances to obtain treatment for an illness or for a diagnosis. You can also get a written note from a doctor that states that air ambulances are necessary for your health. The doctor’s note must be dated no earlier than 60 days prior to your trip.

One key to air ambulances and Medicare coverage is to remember that Medicare will only cover you to the nearest hospital or medical facility. One surprise for many people who use air ambulances is they don’t have a say in where they are transported to. If you want to be transported to a different medical care facility you will likely have to arrange for your own air ambulances.

Medicare will cover 80% of air ambulances in emergency situations, after your deductible. Costs and coverages for air ambulances and Medicare coverage can change. Medicare funding can be changed by Congress at different times during the year, and those changes could impact everything, including air ambulances. You should always contact a healthcare insurance professional to find out what air ambulances coverages are available to you.

If you are in a non-emergency situation air ambulance companies will provide you with an “Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage” (ABN) prior to your trip. Travel Care Air is based in South Carolina, which has special rules for multiple air ambulances. If you get non-emergency, medically necessary transportation three or more times in a 10 day period Medicare requires us to get prior authorization for a fourth trip within 30 days. This means you’ll know if you are covered and also applies in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At Travel Care we are always ready to answer your insurance questions, so feel free to call us anytime.


Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

ID-100226283One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to take better care of their health. In fact, six of the top 10 resolutions in America are health-related. Unfortunately most resolutions are broken. In 2013 Forbes did a survey that found that only eight percent of people achieve their resolutions. Still, when it comes to health it is vital to stay on track. Coming up with manageable goals will help ensure a healthy 2015 for you.

One of the popular health-related New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. This is something that millions of people struggle with and the goals can be abandoned early after the new year because many people expect immediate results. Instead of focusing on the larger picture, make your resolutions more about lifestyle changes to help you loose weight. For example, a resolution that is more likely to last is to eat smaller portions of food. Studies show that using smaller plates and bowls will help people lose weight by helping to curb overeating. Get rid of your large plates and bowls and swap them for smaller options for a smaller waistline.

Another way to get more healthy in 2015 is to make a resolution to spend more time in the kitchen. Sounds like it would have the opposite effect, right? But spending time in the kitchen, cooking and preparing your own meals will allow you to be able to keep track of calories. You’ll also know exactly what you’re putting in your food. Cook more at home and you will be able to lose weight easier and you’ll feel better.

Another popular, but often abandoned resolution is to quit smoking. As a former smoker myself, I can tell you how difficult, but rewarding this resolution can be. For many people quitting smoking takes a few tries. The options to help you quit vary and for many people different ways will work. For me, it was cold turkey (plus locking myself in my apartment for a few days to avoid interacting with people while I was cranky). One option to help is to plan a budget without the cost of cigarettes so you can see how much money you’ll save by quitting. There are also support groups and doctors can prescribe medication to help you quit.

One resolution that people don’t think about, but can have a big impact on health is to reduce stress. Pent up negative feelings that get bottled up inside can do a lot of harm to your health. Popular research shows that not managing stress well can lead to depression and can cause problems for the cardiovascular, nervous, immune and digestive systems. One great way to deal with stress is to exercise. If you have a stressful day, go for a run, play basketball or do something to burn off those stress hormones. For more serious cases a trip to the doctor or talking to a psychologist may be the best option.

Whatever your resolutions are for this year, we hope that 2015 treats you with joy and happiness and success in your ambitions. Happy New Year from all of us at Travel Care Air!


When the Air Ambulance Bill Arrives

air-ambulanceRecently an article written by the World-Herald highlighted potential issues for people who need an air ambulance. Insurance is the number one concern for most people involved in air ambulance services. This is especially true for patients who don’t plan on using an air ambulance, such as someone who needs to be life-flighted to a hospital to receive special care after a car accident.

Receiving a bill for an air ambulance can be a shock to people. An air ambulance flight can be costly, depending on many factors, and the wrong insurance could stick you with a large sum of the bill. It’s always important to remember that anything may happen. Having coverage for an air ambulance flight is not something many people think about, however with a little education you can avoid getting stuck with a large bill.

In the case of some mentioned in the World-Herald article, some people transported by an air ambulance may find that outside insurance will cover the trip if regular health insurance does not. Some air ambulance companies have contracts with certain insurance companies. If you are involved in a car accident and have car insurance, it is possible that your car insurance will cover an air ambulance trip to a hospital. Typically car insurance covers all ambulance needs. If you don’t have strong health insurance you should first talk with your car insurance company provider to find out what coverages are available to you.

The World-Herald article also covered a man who had to use an air ambulance and was stuck with the entire bill because the air ambulance company that was used in his rescue was out of his health insurance network. If you are in a serious accident you may not have time to choose the right air ambulance provider. Usually the paramedics will decide to call for air ambulances without regard for your insurance.

But most air ambulance companies will work with you to find a payment plan that is right for you, if you are stuck with the full amount of a bill. Also, you may qualify for special reductions in payments if you can prove you have financial hardships. Other air ambulance companies also offer advanced fees that will cover a certain amount of an air ambulance flight. Annual or monthly fees may be available to help in an emergency situation.

At Travel Care Air we understand that most of the people that we serve have questions about insurance and costs. Our team of professionals have been in the air ambulance business for over three decades now, and we understand the complicated nature of insurance and coming up with a plan to make our services affordable. You can call us anytime to talk about cost and let us know about any concerns you have. For more information and for more guidance through the air ambulance process, like us on Facebook.


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