Friday, December 06, 2013

Getting in that ambulance can cost you

Robert Anglen, AZ Republic, Nov 17, 2013, wrote about a woman who was transported by helicopter against her protests--she was strapped to the gurney--and it cost her $32,000 plus! A 20-minute flight.

She told them to call her husband and he would come get her. But no.

We had a similar experience after a house fire--my daughter had been in the house--her room was totaled--she had some soot in her throat--the paramedics insisted on an ambulance while we followed in a car--$800. It would have been a $12 cab ride if we had gone that route--or we could have taken her in my sister's car.

It's against the law--at least out here in AZ--to force treatment on someone who refuses it. This includes ambulance or chopper transport. I did let the paramedics take her. I was pretty stressed at the time--I came home to a fire with firemen in the house, etc.

The NYT (Dec 4, 2013) had a story by Elisabeth Rosenthal featuring a swim teacher who fell and broke three teeth. She accepted an ambulance ride--$1,772.42.

Ambulance rides used to be free--a municipal service. Now, they are private businesses.

They are anything from fire depts, to hospital-run, to volunteers. The quip is that if you have seen one ambulance company, you have seen one ambulance company.

Medicare rides alone have gone from $2 billion in 2002 to $6 billion now.

Even under that Obamacare thing, you will make a copay under most of the plans--more than $200 as a rule.

Some companies also gauge if your situation was a true emergency--going to the ER instead of a low care place can make it one. Sometimes you need to be admitted to the hospital for it to be an emergency.

In other words--crapshoot. And you are paying something, usually a lot. One woman went 2 blocks for $900.

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