Monday, April 9, 2012

Comment on Refusing Ambulance Service

Dear Readers,

Madame L received the following comment (edited to remove personal identifying information) from a reader who was unable to post the comment online:

"How shocking about the old lady who skinned her knee and got charged for it! I hope she fought it.  What right do they have to charge someone when they never told her there was a fee for their services?  (Aside from the whole fact  that it's appalling to be charged so much for a band aid.)  I remember on New Year's Eve I was carrying my son back to the car and I slipped off the curb and fell with him and he knocked his head pretty badly on the sidewalk, and we took him to an ambulance stand where they checked him out and said that he probably didn't have a concussion and offered an ice pack.  They never asked our information or anything, just treated us and let us go.  My son thought it was pretty exciting to have gotten to go inside the ambulance."

This comment prompted Madame L to look for the news article about the old woman who was charged for a bandaid  from an ambulance "service" --- where Madame L discovered that the actual amount the woman was charged was not just $600 or so, but $765. The woman DID complain, and the hospital refused to reduce the charge, so the woman complained to the local newspaper, which was eventually able to get the hospital/ambulance service to throw out the fee entirely. It's also interesting to Madame L from the article is the following information:

A representative of the hospital which provided the ambulance "service" at that event said that, "...if people need help, but it's not an emergency, they should have a careful conversation with ambulance medics, not police or other on-site responders. Ask what services might cost and whether a private company or a hospital owns the ambulance. When problems arise, ask for an itemized bill and seek out such "patient representatives" at the hospital."

So, to Madame L's original questioner: You were right to refuse to accept any help from the ambulance service, as long as you were indeed healthy and did not need the service.

And, to Madame L's recent commenter: How lucky you are to live in a country where your health care needs are covered without having to resort to private profit-making companies and their "services."

Best wishes to all,

Madame L

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I wonder if ambulance fees don't differ according to the city where they are provided, and whether or not they are provided by a private service. In my town, the ambulance service is run by volunteers, and there is no fee if they are called out but do not transport. That was the case in the previous community where we lived, too, although I believe that there the ambulance personnel were paid rather than donating their volunteer services.

In that last community that I just mentioned, we called the ambulance once when our little one got hurt and passed out. The EMT's came to our home, in the ambulance, with lights and siren blaring. They did a complete physical evaluation (not sure if or what personal information they asked for), and then left without charging us anything because it was determined that a hospital visit was not necessary, therefore we did not need their transportation services.

Even if they had advised that we go to the hospital, we could have refused their transportation services and transported the child ourselves, and they still wouldn't have charged us, even though they had come to our home with all their equipment and done the evaluation.

Maybe laws vary state by state?