My ambulance bill

Ambulance bill in San Francisco: $1,339.23
Ambulance bill in Toronto: $48
Not bleeding to death on the bridge next to the Giants Ballpark: priceless

Thank you United States, for teaching me the financial worth of my life.

Thanks to Casket Coach on flickr for pointing out that American Medical Response is a Canadian-owned company. Oh, the irony.

21 Responses to “My ambulance bill”

  1. Felix Unger Says:

    I say, hey, bill it to Bill (Willie) Mays. It’s his stadium and his name is one the bill. Let him pay for it.

    And he probably has health care.

    My comments about health care and the USA:

    We consider it a capitalist sport here in the USA, getting rich while making people “Well”. We allow the free market to determine pricing. (As we have seen here in all its brutal greed and glory.) But a free market implies an eventual equilibrium between supply and demand. That we are free to contract based on these needs weighed against the relative supply of services/goods. But the problem is we cannot control the demand of our health. we have no control over illness. we cannot suddenly, in a fit of lucidity while our face has been peeled back from a motocycle crash on the 101, negotiate pricing for our ambulance ride, or our blood transfusion, or our sutures. And ironically, even IF we were to inquire into the pricing– NONE of the “providers” could tell you what they charge! No one knows anything?! Doctors are shielded from the egregious rates, hospitals hire contractors thru 3rd parties to alleviate liability… so no one can accurately paint what your estimated costs are until AFTER they are rendered>?! What the hell kind of system is that? Well, I can think of only one other field that operates on that blank check sorta, non-competitive pricing. GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS. And what a surprise those players are big in healthcare… General Electric, General Dynamics, Raytheon…and since they demand a profit, it isn’t surprising that they’ve found clever ways to ream it out of us. A bill in Thailand for a 2 day stay at the top hospitals, using the newest AMERICAN machinery…+ lab work and doctor bills….$20.00. TWENTY BUCKS?! Steel, copper wiring, electricity, nuclear medicine, radiological scans, concrete floors, light bulbs… come on. These are commodities which they are paying for at nearly the same rates as we are. 20 bucks?! How can that be and STILL have a profit margin built in?

    America is being scammed JUST like the Iraqis are. This is HUGE lie being perpetrated by the exact same cast of characters. So where is all the money actually going? Certainly, the Iraqis are no better off and we are all no more healthy. And the doctors aren’t getting 20% pay raises each year. The answer? Merck, AIG, GE, Raytheon and Wall St.

    Until one day, the USA dollar collapses under its debt and the economic powerhouse falls like the Soviets did. They had Afghanistan and the Cold War, we have the Iraq War and Healthcare.

  2. noipv4 Says:

    I second that. I was forced on an ambulance for a minor seizure by my campus police. My Ambulance bill came out to $800 (a 5 minute ride to the hospital).
    My awesome healthcare provider AETNA, whom I pay more than $200 a month, refused to pay more than $350.
    Healthcare in the USA is a cool example of corporate greed.

  3. mdt1759 Says:

    I was transported to a hospital without any authorization by me or anyone authorized by me to makle any such decisions for me while unconscious. I would have declined any ambulance or medical service. Now I’m being billed for services I neither wanted or asked for. What are my rights?

  4. kristian Says:

    i have experienced the same problem, i had a seizure and i refused the ambulance ride, the police said if i didnt go they would put me into protective custody, so instead of seeing what i see i the television sho “COPS” i went. it was a five minute ride to the hospital and ” i am a college student with no insurance” they billed me for $527, what can i do? i could have taken a taxi for cheaper? for example: what about homeless people that the ambulance brings to the hospital, how do they bill them?

  5. Aric Says:

    I recently was at the Sturgis Motorcycle rally in South Dakota. I was assaulted at the campground and had my money stolen, about $250. Consequently, I was left laying in the grass while the grass arrested the guy that assaulted me after tasering him. Upon gaining consciousness I called for a ride to the hospital and informed them that it wasn’t an emergency and simply needed a ride since I couldnt very well ride my motorcycle with both eyes nearly swollen shut. Regardless of my request I was transported by ambulance, about a ten minute ride, to the hospital where the doctor simply told me there was no permanent damage and sent me on my way. Two weeks later I received a bill from the hospital for $550 and a bill from the ambulance service for $660. Im a student and therefore cant afford health insurance. Makes me wonder who the bad guys really are…obviously the guy that robbed me would have made off way better had he worked for the healthcare industry. Which is mildly ironic since he put way more effort into gettin the money than they did

  6. Chris Says:

    Here is a question. When 911 was called did the ambulance show up? So for a 5 minute ride how much did it cost? Well I am pretty sure you are paying for the service to be available 24/7 that must cost a ton of money. I know if I worked as a Paramedic or EMT I would want to be paid the whole time and not just for your 5 minute ride. How much does it cost to keep there skills up and how about that vehicle, insurance(lord knows you need that in today’s lawsuit driven world), fuel, their ambulance garage, electricity, heat for the building etc. etc.
    By the way…have you ever seen a rich paramedic or EMT?? Me either but I do see rich health care insurance executives. Oh and lets not forget firefighters…they do pretty darn good and if you into it I bet we spend a ton more money that goes to fire departments. I am no expert but I dont think your one sided pocket book opionions take everything in to account.

  7. Ron Says:

    I hope you’re kidding, Chris… there is absolutely no way to justify a $1,300.00 bill for a 5 minute ride in an ambulance. That’s around $40,000.00 a month….IF there were only one ride per day. So, $480,000.000+ a year IF there were only ride ride per day. In a town like mine…..well, you get the idea. I was in an ambulance once….and was charged $250.00 for mileage alone….a mere 1.2 miles away.

  8. Ace Says:

    I tripped over a skate board and hit the back of my head, which resulted into a minor concussion. My friends took me to a hospital in Indio California. They checked me out and said that they didn’t know what my deal was and that they didn’t take care of cranial injuries. They charged me $7,230.00 but they gave me a discount so it turned out to be $3,000 and some change. They called an ambulance to transport me to where they dealt with cranial injuries(and I’m inconcious this whole time.)… And ambulance transported me to Moreno Valley hospital which is an hour away from Indio. The Ambulance charged me $3,000 and some change(I called them and told them that I was willing to pay for the gas). Then I spend the night at the Moreno Valley hospital to wake up to them telling me that I was fine and that I could go home. And they charged me $15,000 and some change. I have no car, I’m a college student, and I got laid off from my crappy mall job. Now this is going to mess up my credit score and I will not be able to get a student loan to support myself. I crash at random places. If I bought a ticket and went all the way to a hospital in france and came back it’d have cost me around $1,500. Go figure…..

    I’m angry. ghghghgghghgh

  9. Christine Says:

    The EMT’s in our area start out at just over $8 an hour with the top Medics raking in a huge sum of $17 an hour after nearly twenty years. These men and women are not in this profession for the money or glory, they get little of either. They are in it for the feeling it gives them to know they made that difference in someones life. They are kind people who only want to help others.

    Another thought for some. Check with your local Emergency Medical Service provider and find out if their department has a membership drive. Many do and it’s a small fee for you or your family. It provides you with the protection of having a small or no bill if you need their services. If your involved in a motor vehicle accident the insurance covers the ride. If your hurt at work your employer covers the ride. Most health insurance companies cover the ride as long as it’s a real emergency. And to Aric, you state the guy who assualted you was caught after being tased. I would think your hospital and ambulance bills could be handed his direction.

    Emergency Medical Service resonders never treat or transport a patient without that patients consent. Implied consent = a patient who is unable to give consent is given treatment under the legal assumption that he or she would want treatment. This would apply to a patient who is unresponsive. If law enforcement is involved than chances are there maybe more to the picture than people wish to share. If the patient doesn’t want to ride in the ambulance a officer can transport them or their welcome to come aboard and assist in the transport. But you can bet there was a reason for it.

    Cost of a new ambulance ranges from close to 100 thousand to nearly 200 thousand. Add in tens of thousands for equipment. There is one ambulance ready to go save someone. Not to mention, building cost’s, insurance cost’s, office cost’s, fuel cost’s, immunizations for crew members so they can protect themselves from those they try to help. The cost’s are endless.

    Lets hit on those who abuse the system and call twenty or thirty times a year. They are not sick but need their fix of pain medication and figure their headache deserves a trip by emergency ambulance to the nearest ER. Oh yea then when they use up those resources they ask that you take them to a hospital a little further away for the next trip. In the mean time a neighbor suffers a heart attack and lays on the kitchen floor for twenty minutes while an ambulance from out of town races in to help because the local one transported that fool off for his fix.

    If your not happy with your health care system than stop whining and do something about it. There are changes needed but whining does nothing, get involved and make changes that really matter. EMS has come a long way but it needs some fine tuning, stand up and help make it better without putting down those caring people who responded to your emergency. Those people need your help in building a better system of Emergency care, not reading about how they should work for nothing so you can have a free ride.

  10. dimples Says:

    if they are only get $8-$17 bucks an hour then where is all that money going?

  11. slomag Says:

    I don’t think anybody is blaming the EMT’s, but let’s be real here — is an ambulance an emergency service or a private enterprise? If it’s an emergency service, it should be paid for by tax dollars, just like other emergency services. If it’s a private, professional service then it should be held to the same standards — what other business do you know of that can provide a service against your will, and bill you an arbitrary amount after the fact.

  12. Deb Says:

    My daughter called the police, the police called the ambulance. When I refused to get in the ambulance the officer said he would take me to jail. Of course, I got in the ambulance. 3 miles and $900.00 later the bill has been turned over to collections with an additional 33.3% tacked on. The City runs both the ambulance and police departments.

    I just went back to work after being ill for 7 months, the collection agency wants 25% of my income, and I am thousands of dollars in debt. I’ve offered $50.00 a month until I can get my bills in order, but they are demanding more.

    I don’t think I owe the bill, but am having a terrible time finding any way to not pay the bill. Whatever happened to coercion? Can anyone help me? I live in Washington state.

  13. Joe Says:

    You pay one way or another. Here in the US, it was $1300. But you pay less in taxes here in the states than you do in Cananda. In Canada, you pay $48 for your ambulance ride, but you have been socking money to that ambulance ride since you have been working and purchasing goods. In Canada, whether you need that ambulance ride or not it or not does not matter. Your still paying for it. That’s why its called insurance.

    An old movie I watched from the 60′s explained health insurance perfectly. It was a comedy western. It was a story about Jessie James. The name of the movie escapes me at the moment but it was sort of a Monty Python type of story where everything satire. One of the side characters in the film kept following Jesse James all over the country. He was an insurance salesman. He kept pitching to Jesse James, “Are you a gambling man”? Jesse being a cowboy of course relied, “yes”. The insurance salesman replied with “how about buying some life insurance”? Jesse replied, “what’s that”? “Well”, the salesman said, “if you die I get $1000, if I die before you, you get my life insurance policy of $1000″. When you think about what insurance is, whether its life, auto, home, or medical, that’s what insurance is. A gamble. You should never purchase health insurance with the mindset of taking at least 3 ambulance rides and needing to be on diabetic meds in your old age. It should be something that if you do take care of your self, (as 72% of Americans don’t), but do get cancer, or diabetes, then you get care from your insurance. Folks who abuse their body’s with smoking, over eating, eating unhealthy, playing too much video games, etc… should pay more for their care or insurance. Period.

  14. Nicolette Says:

    I’m researching a story on ambulance bills.
    Could you please contact me if you’re in Southern California and would be willing to share your experience?

  15. Truely sad Says:

    You people have got to be kidding me. Every area is different, but you really should get all the facts before complaining. First of all, to address the person who got over a 1000 dollar bill, that does seem a little excessive and I can’t answer why it was so much, but you may want to ask for an itemized bill for starters.
    Next to the people who have been transported by EMS, instead of law enforcement, consider this, LEO will tell you to go with them, or with EMS, because they don’t want to mess with you. If this in mind, if you are offered the choice, you are not under arrest (usually), if in doubt, ask. If you are under arrest, then go by ambulance and LEO HAS to pick up the bill. If you go by LEO to the hospital, and are not under arrest, then the ride there cost you nothing.
    Now, for you people who were transported by EMS while you were unconscious, you were taken to a hospital to find out what was wrong with you and to get you help, and if you are complaining about that, then I’m willing to bet, if you were not transported, and you died, your family would sue the hell out of EMS and the city or county. You can’t have it both ways people. Thank your lucky stars these people that are very under paid, do what they do and stop your wining!

  16. Bob Says:

    Mine was a 3 mile trip, that did nothing but transport, and charged 1,700.00!! This is not reasonable.

  17. Kendra Says:

    AI crazy ex of mine called the cops on me saying I was hurting myself. The cops came with an ambulance and made me go to the hospital even tho I was not hurt and have no history of this either. I had actually been sleeping for awhile. They made me go to the hospital and by ambulance. I said I would go to the hospital but there was no reason for the ambulance but they made me get in. $1200 bucks for me sitting there and for the EMTs to just sit there for 3 miles. I’d rather pay more taxes over time than to get a ridiculous and unnecessary bill like this. I can’t afford it and am not sure what to do.

  18. Lauren Says:

    I stumbled upon this discussion in a desperate attempt to find some answers regarding my medical bill. So to get this out, yes I was drunk, and taken in an ambulance for 4 minutes, brought to the ER and placed in the hallway to sleep. I have received a $1700 from the fire department and $1900 from the ER. I repeatedly said I did not have health insurance. My friends were standing right there asking if they could just take me home. They did nothing to me, not even heart monitoring or taking my blood. I would have been better off going to the drunk tank, no matter how traumatizing it may have been. Pretty sure being in my late twenties and having a hospital bill sent to my parents, whom I don’t live with, for almost $3000 is way more traumatizing than a drunk tank!!!! I mean seriously, i am being punished for being cooperative.
    And this is in no way blaming the EMT’s. My good friend is one and says that this type of situation is his biggest complaint. There is no debate that the health system in america needs some reform. This is just bullshit.

  19. charles Ahrendt Says:

    I received an ambulance bill 30 months after service was provided. They took medicare consignment but never filed. The company operates as a d/b/a and I believe that stands for “double billing attempt”.

  20. Kevnice Says:

    It doesn’t cost $1500 for an ambulance ride; it cost $1500 to have that ambulance staffed, stocked and ready to roll 24/7 just in case you have an emergency. It takes about $180k to buy and fully stock the avg basic life support ambulance (EMTs only), add another $60k to stock an advanced life support ambulance (with a paramedic). Most of these medications and supplies expire or break every couple months and need to be replaced, so thats more cost. Ambulance bay/headquaters cost (heat, water, rent, cable etc) adds up quick. Malpractice insurance plus vehicle insurance …think of how dangerous it is to blow through lights and stop signs.

    Now add the human factor, most people dont know this, but most EMTs in the US are volunteers. Volunteers that risk injury and often suffer PTSD or some type of mental disorder just because they enjoy serving their community. The avg career (paid) EMTs only makes about $11/hr accross the nation. Paramedics seldomly volunteer, but they might as well do it for free. At a wage of $16-28/hr across the nation the risk, and liability doesnt quite compute, yet they still do it. Once they’re volunteering or working for a fee they still have to maintain their skills and attend trainings every month, most volunteer and paid companies will foot that bill.

    Now lets talk about why it is so expensive. Billing costs takes up 10% of revenues. Medicare/medicaid pays 80% of a flat rate that they set, which is not enough to begin with, and then they expect the patient to pick up the other 20% (FYI they never do). Let me remind you that up to 70% of all insured elderly or chronically ill patients (our biggest customer base) are on medicare/medicaid as their only insurance. Most self-pays (no insurance) will never pay for the services that they receive however they will call up to 15x a month without any real medical need. The only thing EMS companies can do to try to recuperate these costs is drive up cost for non-medicare/medicaid runs.

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