Residents who aren’t covered by memberships in two air ambulance companies serving Haines could get stuck with a whopping medevac bill.

Since June 18, new and renewed policies purchased under Apollo Medi Trans don’t cover flights provided by Airlift Northwest. That’s an issue because during emergencies, Haines clinic workers arrange for the first flight to Haines available.

The two membership services – Apollo MT by Guardian Flight and Airlift Northwest AirCare – honor only the cost of their own air services. Apollo MT and Guardian Flight recently merged into a single company.

“It is important for people to know” about the change, said Jenn Walsh, who works for the Haines Borough as an emergency medical technician. Apollo coverage previously included Airlift Northwest flights.

Policies for those who purchased or renewed Apollo coverage before June 18 will remain unchanged until coverage expires.

Historically, most medevacs from Haines have been aboard Guardian flights, as SEARHC has a contract with the company, said Haines clinic administrator Marcia Scott.

But if Guardian is unavailable, dispatch calls Airlift Northwest, which would leave an Apollo MT by Guardian Flight policyholder uninsured unless that individual also has an AirCare membership plan.

Medevac flights can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The change is due to legislation passed in the spring, which made it simpler for flight companies to offer membership programs, resulting in the Apollo-Guardian merger.

Apollo MT by Guardian Flight memberships are available for people with or without medical insurance. The company offers a standard membership plan, which costs $125 for 12 months of coverage, Walsh said.

Airlift Northwest AirCare membership is available only to those with a medical insurance policy that includes air medical transport benefits. The membership program offers a standard plan, which costs $99 for 12 months of coverage, Walsh said.

Walsh said she was not aware of any local patients who’ve been stung by the change.

Neither membership company covers ground ambulance transport costs.

So far in 2014, there have been 49 medevacs, Walsh said. Guardian Flight provided flights 36 times and Airlift Northwest, six. The U.S. Coast Guard provided transport seven times.

In 2013, 62 medevacs included 32 by Guardian, 14 by Airlift Northwest, and 12 by SEARHC MedEvac Service. SEARHC has discontinued its service.

It’s important to remember that you can refuse transport, as long as you’re an adult with the capacity to make the decision at the time, Walsh said. “People have a lot of rights.”