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Thread: Ambulance costs take passengers for a ride

  1. #1
    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    Ambulance costs take passengers for a ride

    Insanity...

    One patient got a $3,660 bill for a 4-mile ride. Another was charged $8,460 for a trip from one hospital that could not handle his case to another that could. Still another found herself marooned at an out-of-network hospital, where she’d been taken by ambulance without her consent.

    These patients all took ambulances in emergencies and got slammed with unexpected bills. Public outrage has erupted over surprise medical bills — generally out-of-network charges that a patient did not expect or could not control — prompting 21 states to pass laws protecting consumers in some situations. But these laws largely ignore ground ambulance rides, which can leave patients stuck with hundreds or even thousands of dollars in bills. Patients usually choose to go to the doctor, but they are vulnerable when they call 911 — or get into an ambulance. The dispatcher picks the ambulance crew, which, in turn, often picks the hospital. Moreover, many ambulances are not summoned by patients. Instead, the crew arrives at the scene having heard about an accident on a scanner, or because police or a bystander called 911.

    Forty years ago, most ambulances were free for patients, provided by volunteers or town fire departments using taxpayer money, said Jay Fitch, president of Fitch & Associates, an emergency services consulting firm. Today, ambulances are increasingly run by private companies and venture capital firms. Ambulance providers now often charge by the mile and sometimes for each “service,” like providing oxygen. If the ambulance is staffed by paramedics rather than emergency medical technicians, that will result in a higher charge — even if the patient didn’t need paramedic-level services.

    The core of the problem is that ambulance and private insurance companies often can’t agree on a fair price, so the ambulance service doesn’t join the insurance network. That leaves patients stuck in the middle with out-of-network charges that are not negotiated. Plus ambulance companies are “severely underfunded” by Medicare and Medicaid, so they must balance the books by charging higher rates for patients with private insurance.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/healt...-bills-n824141
    Thanks from labrea, The Man and pragmatic

  2. #2
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    The insanity of privatization.
    Thanks from labrea, Dangermouse and NightSwimmer

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    The insanity of privatization.
    Which results in higher costs to those who can pay to compensate for those who can't. In another context, we'd call that a transfer of wealth.
    Thanks from Ian Jeffrey

  4. #4
    We choose both. Amelia's Avatar
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    I took an ambulance ride last December, and I still haven't received a bill.

    I went to the "wrong" hospital (the one which had my most records instead of the closest) so I've been waiting all these months for that other shoe to drop for those seven extra miles.

    So far I seem to be in the clear. We were in the process of moving, so maybe my secondary insurance provider based their coverage on our residence of record instead of on my new address where the fall took place. But if I receive a bill next year, it won't be the first time I got one with that much delay.




    ... now I have my records at the nearest hospital. Plus I know the neighbors, so I'd ask them for a ride first if I had no driver available at home.

  5. #5
    Council Member Djinn's Avatar
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    Not all ambulances are expensive.


  6. #6
    We choose both. Amelia's Avatar
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    My ambulance _was_ from our town fire department, so maybe that's why I didn't get a bill ... even though my primary insurance made a small payment and made it sound like a bigger bill was coming. ???

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Southern Dad's Avatar
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    Amelia, be glad it was just that your records were at the wrong hospital. My father was terminally ill with stage 4 lung cancer, was transported from the farm by an air ambulance. They went to the closest hospital rather than the hospital that had a surgical team standing by ready to perform an operation which would have kept him alive for at least several more months. Unfortunately after arrival at that hospital they decided that he was not stable enough to transport to the other hospital. The cost of that out of network air ambulance trip that went to the wrong hospital? Nearly $20,000.

  8. #8
    Moderator HCProf's Avatar
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    My Mom was transported by a County ambulance for her last ride and the bill was 1100.00 for a 30 mile ride...she was in a full code and advanced life support was used. My parents had paid taxes to the County for 25 years and I had the bill written off for this very reason. Many seniors will hesitate to call 911 for this very reason. My Mom was barely conscious when the ambulance arrive and she still fought the transport tooth and nail. It is sad that people worry about the cost when their life is at stake. On the other hand, you would be surprised at the amount of abuse with transport and 911. 911 will send a ambulance out for any reason, the dispatchers are not medical personnel and cannot triage cases. We have had taxpayer 911 rides at our hospital for non emergencies such as STD infections and many other non emergencies.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member Dangermouse's Avatar
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    Emergency ambulances here are all free at the point of use, and provided by the NHS. There are private services but they are essentially basic patient transport. Most counties in the UK have an Air Ambulance, all of which are charity-funded. They suggest that each mission comes in at around $3300. They don't charge.

  10. #10
    ~Standing My Ground~ Sassy's Avatar
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    They are very expensive cab rides. Had to go to ER twice in the past few years but neither time did I need treatment on the way. If I couldn't have driven I would have taken a regular cab/uber!

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