Who Pays for an Ambulance in an Emergency?


Contrary to popular belief, ambulance rides are not passed on to taxpayers. Unlike fire services, they are not taxpayer funded; rather, due to our complicated health insurance system, they can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to the unassuming patient.

How much can an ambulance be?

If you just witnessed a car accident and the driver seems fine, but you call an ambulance for them anyway just in case, you could have unwittingly provided the survivor with the gift of an unaffordable medical bill. Most Americans still think that an ambulance is covered by the taxes they pay; yet fire departments throughout the country charge for these services. In addition, ambulances are operated by a variety of entities, which is one reason costs vary dramatically.

According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, ambulance costs typically range from $224 to $2,204. This is a huge sum to pass onto an unsuspecting patient who could not possibly know at the time of her emergency whether the ambulance would be covered by her insurance, or take her to a nearby hospital that accepts her insurance. Even if your insurance ends up covering ambulance charges, they rarely cover the full cost of the service.

If you receive medical care from physicians and technicians outside of your network, you could face astronomical medical bills. Balance billing is the practice of out of network healthcare providers billing patients for services after their insurance company has covered some of the costs of the invoice. In an emergency, one does not have the time to make sure that each person that works on oneself is part of one's insurance network.

Even if your insurance company does cover the cost of the ambulance, it is likely they will deny your claim on the basis that an ambulance was not medically necessary. Every insurance company has its own way of determining whether or not EMS services were necessary and whether or not whatever happened to a patient was truly an emergency. Sometimes, the insurance company will consider an event an emergency if the patient is taken to a hospital and cared for at that hospital.

What can I do if left with these charges?

Many unassuming Americans feel furious when they find out there is not much they can do about ambulance costs, especially when they were forced by a care facility to ride in an ambulance in the first place. One thing you can do is appeal to the insurance company to reevaluate your claim. You can also negotiate with the ambulance company that billed you. During these times, it may be helpful to get an attorney involved. A New Jersey personal injury attorney like James Vasquez can use his expert negotiation skills to get you the claim you truly deserve. Call (862) 247-8711.