The Ambulance Bill Conundrum: Balancing High Costs and Community Healthcare Needs
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
For years, Americans have complained about healthcare bills because they’re often shockingly high and don’t always make sense. Not only is it frustrating trying to understand a lengthy bill filled with confusing code numbers and explanations, it’s particularly worrying for patients trying to figure out how they’re going to pay it.
Numerous laws are on the books to relieve some of the financial pressure associated with healthcare bills. However, the stress for patients remains constant.
The unfortunate reality is that ambulance bills are no different from medical bills. They can be expensive to pay and complicated to understand. A high bill may feel unjustified to a patient who has had a medical emergency.
Ambulance bills are often the result of numerous factors that affect the ambulance company’s resources and budget. Ambulance bills are also often affected by local government budgets.
Furthermore, ambulance services have to live with government budget cuts and still maintain their services. That complicates the overall costs associated with emergency medical services.
Ambulance Bills Can Be Shockingly High, Even Without a Hospital Stay
KMOV-TV in St. Louis recently aired the story of a local man who was charged $310 for not using an ambulance. He was on oxygen and when he fell in his home, he couldn’t get up.
Paramedics responded to his daughter’s call, helped the man to his feet and restored his oxygen supply. Three weeks later, the man received a bill for “partial trans no-go.”
This event was not an isolated incident. Patients often receive bills for similar services with the fees based on how the ambulance company structures its charges and budgets.
Balancing Ambulance Resources While Keeping Healthcare Costs Low Is Difficult
In reality, using an ambulance for any services can be costly. An actual emergency occurring while an EMS crew responded to the daughter’s call for help could have strained resources and made it difficult for first responders to effectively manage multiple 911 calls simultaneously.
As individual who calls 911 requesting emergency assistance without the intention of being transported to a hospital is still responsible for paying for the services. This fact is often hard for patients to accept, especially when they receive such a large bill for what appears to have been such a small service.
Patients should voice their concerns to their elected officials. In that way, community residents can help government officials to better understand the healthcare needs of the community and make better budgetary decisions about emergency services.
It’s also important for citizens to work with their elected officials to balance ambulance budgets and the costs of responding to an emergency. Such cooperation might lead to an increase in EMS funding, which in turn would benefit the entire community.