An emergency flight to the hospital could set you back $40,000 - unless you have one of 2 credit cards with medical evacuation coverage

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  • A Johns Hopkins study found that the median price for a medical helicopter or plane ride in the US is a staggering $39,000.
  • The study also found that these costs were as much as 9.5 times what Medicare would cover. Many air ambulance companies don't participate in medical insurance programs, so you could be on the hook for a huge bill unless you plan ahead.
  • Luckily, credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum® Card from American Express offer emergency evacuation insurance, covering you up to $100,000 for medical transportation. You just need to pay for your trip with a card that offers this coverage.

It's the kind of benefit you hopefully never need to use, but in the face of a medical emergency, credit card evacuation insurance can mean the difference between a $40,000 bill and being off the hook for huge transportation expenses.

According to a new Johns Hopkins study cited in the Washington Post, the median price for an emergency medical air lift is $39,000 - and that price is up to 9.5 times what Medicare would cover.

Emergency medical evacuation services typically aren't covered by primary health insurance plans, so unless you have supplemental coverage you could be faced with an outrageous fee.

Unless you're traveling far off the beaten path where medical options will be especially limited, though, you probably don't need to buy travel insurance. Instead, just make sure you're paying for your trip with a credit card that offers emergency evacuation insurance.

Credit cards that cover medical emergencies

If you've been on the fence about paying a $450-plus annual fee for a premium credit card, this benefit alone can make it worth the investment.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card from American Express both offer emergency evacuation coverage up to $100,000, which can be a godsend if you or a loved one is hit with a medical emergency. This is on top of scores of other perks, like bonus points on travel purchases and annual statement credits. (Note that the Citi Prestige Card also offers medical evacuation coverage, but this benefit will end on September 22nd, 2019.)

On top of covering emergency medical evacuations, these two cards offer travel accident insurance in the case of death, dismemberment, loss of sight, and other specified circumstances.

Don't just assume you're covered

In order for an emergency evacuation to be covered through your credit card, your transportation needs to be arranged through the card benefits administrator. Don't charge a helicopter evacuation to your Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum and expect to receive reimbursement down the line; you or a companion needs to call your card issuer to initiate the process.

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from our partner The Points Guy »

Learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express from our partner The Points Guy »

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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