Medjet business has slowed, not stopped

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A patient entering a plane for medical air transport.
A patient entering a plane for medical air transport.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has slowed the number of calls that air medical transport company Medjet has received, it did not stop them altogether.

Thus far in 2020, Medjet has transported victims of skiing accidents, motorcycle accidents, pneumonia and more. The evacuations range from the minor -- a ground ambulance transfer from western North Carolina to the central area of the state, which would have cost the member $2,495 out of pocket  --  to the major -- an air ambulance from Fiji to California that would have cost $103,488.

Medjet membership will provide medical transport to the ill or injured party’s hospital of choice if they are hospitalized more than 150 miles from home. Annual memberships for individuals traveling internationally and domestically start at $295. Short-term memberships start at $99. 

John Gobbels, Medjet vice president and COO, said January and February were growth months for Medjet with a busy transportation department, but things started to slow down in March as the coronavirus spread around the world. 

While Gobbels couldn’t release the typical number of transports Medjet conducts in an average year due to confidentiality agreements with transport partners, he did say the company typically has eight to 10 members requiring hospitalization every day.

When the State Department advised all U.S. citizens to avoid international travel with a Level 4 advisory in mid-March, Gobbels said, travel became much more difficult logistically, and calls to Medjet slowed.

“They unfortunately still kept coming, albeit at a lower rate,” Gobbels said. 

Those calls were typically from those traveling domestically or American expats.

“One thing that’s important to remember is that all the things that were out there prior to Covid-19 are still out there -- heart attacks and strokes and slip-and-falls and automobile accidents,” he said. “None of that has gone away just because there’s Covid. So that’s really what we saw, are people that still required and needed our services even during the Covid pandemic.”

The biggest issue Medjet has faced throughout the pandemic has been time, Gobbels said. In some cases, it has been difficult to relocate crew members and pilots for transport missions with lesser access to commercial flights.

Medjet is starting to see some signs of recovery for the travel industry. According to Gobbels, the company has seen an uptick in corporate inquiries about membership, especially among small- to medium-sized businesses, as well as existing customers giving memberships to additional employees.

Additionally, its consortia partners are also reporting upticks in bookings.

“There’s great hope that people are gaining more confidence in leisure travel,” he said.

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