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Exploding costs for emergency helicopters

Although there is a new regulation of charging for an emergency helicopter, some patients are still charged huge amounts. Recently, a four-year-old child, who was injured when doing a ski course, had to pay over 4,000 Euros.

Julian Pienz (4) from Rum (Tyrol, West Austria) broke his leg on 29 December 2012 in the ski resort Oberperfuss (near Innsbruck). An emergency doctor from Germany provided first aid and called an emergency helicopter.

As the boy was not insured for an emergency helicopter transport, he was charged 4,249 Euros. Julian’s father has been insured for 15 years, but he forgot to extend the insurance when his son was born.

Since last year, the states of Austria and the social insurance share the costs for helicopter flights. Sport accidents such as skiing in the mountains are not included in this regulation.

State MP Andrea Haselwanter-Schneider from the civil forum "Liste Fritz" criticised the regulation as not precise enough. She said that skiing will always cause accidents and that a Tyrolean family should not be charged this amount. Also, one cannot protest when a helicopter is called.

The responsible state Secretary Bernhard Tilg told the ORF that he thinks the case of the Pienz family is unique and he wants to help them. Nevertheless, in cases of sport and leisure accidents one is obliged to cover the costs themselves.

The president of the Chamber of Labour, Erwin Zangerl, has a different opinion: he pleads for an insurance that covers all accidents. Tourism agencies, ski schools and lift companies should be involved in this insurance and thus cases such as Julian’s could be avoided.

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