Cost to get to the hospital: Uber v. ambulance

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Some people are skipping the ambulance ride to avoid paying the transport fee. Instead, they're taking a low-cost alternative with Uber or Lyft.  

So WUSA9 looked into the exact transport prices and what to do if you can't afford to pay. 

In general, a person's health insurance is billed first for ambulance transport costs. Additionally, a qualified person will apply Medicare/Medicaid to cover the majority of the charge.

But what happens if you still cannot pay the bill? Find out below for each jurisdiction.  

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. 

Ambulance/EMS Transport Fee

  • Basic Life Support transport: $500
  • Advanced Life-1 Support transport: $650
  • Advanced Life Support-2 transport: $750
  • Mileage: $5 per mile - from pick-up point to the hospital for ground transport.

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

Insurance companies/services are primarily billed for transports by our 3rd party billing vendor. Citizens of Prince George's County will not be charged any amount outside of what their insurance company pays. Patients who reside outside of the County will be billed for charges not covered by insurance. If a patient who resides outside of the County cannot afford to pay the bill, that person may request a 'hardship' form to fill out from our Billing Vendor.  Once approved, the balance on the account will be closed. 
Customer service number to Billing Vendor: 844-333-6768.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Ambulance/EMS Transport Fee

  • Basic Life Support (BLS) Emergency: $428
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS) Emergency: $508
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS-2) Emergency: $735
  • Mileage (per loaded mile): $6.55
    • Transport mileage is measured from the incident location to the receiving hospital.

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

DC considers "hardship" cases based on eligibility and offer short term payment plans for patients who qualify. Patients who qualify for "hardship" may have their bill reduced or written off, depending on circumstances.


RELATED: Uber to the ER? Some choosing ride hailing services over ambulances 

In DC, MD, N. Va. area, the price of a low-cost UberX (as of 5/17/17): 

  • Base Fare $1.15
  • Per Minute $0.17
  • Per Mile $1.02
  • Booking Fee $1.55
  • Minimum Fare $6.55
     

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.

Ambulance/EMS Transport Fee

  • Basic Life Support (BLS): $500
  • Advanced Life Support, level 1 (ALS1):  $650 (serious medical problems or traumatic injury)
  • Advanced Life Support, level 2 (ALS2):  $800 (cardiac arrest)
  • Mileage/mile:  $12 per mile, from pick-up point to the hospital for ground transport

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

Patients who cannot afford to pay may file a hardship waiver request. The county waives the transport charge for financial hardship.

Request a hardship waiver form: 1-877-874-4425

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va.

Ambulance/EMS Transport Fee

  • BLS (Basic Life Support):  $467.00
  • ALS1 (Advanced Life Support, Level 1):  $660.00
  • ALS2 (Advanced Life Support, Level 2):  $770.00
  • Mileage, per mile (transport from/to): $11.00

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

A: If an individual is unable to pay for the transport, he or she may apply for a financial hardship waiver.  The Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System's ( LC-CFRS) Financial Hardship Waiver Policy provides a 100% waiver (full coverage) for those with incomes at or below 300% of the current Federal Poverty Levels (FPL).

Financial Hardship Waiver applications must be completed for each emergency ambulance transport. The LC-CFRS Financial Hardship Waiver program is not an insurance policy. LC-CFRS encourages uninsured and underinsured patients to apply for public programs for which they may be eligible; however, failure to apply for public health insurance or medical assistance programs will not disqualify patients from applying for Financial Hardship Waiver for the current date of service.

Loudoun Waiver application form

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md.

Ambulance/EMS Transport Fee

  • Basic Life Support –Non-emergency:  $300.00
  • Basic Life Support –Emergency: $400.00
  • Advanced Life Support– Level 1 – NonEmergency: $350.00
  • Advanced Life Support– Level 1 –Emergency: $500.00
  • Advance Life Support– Level 2:  $700.00
  • Specialty Care Transport:  $800.00
  • Mileage: $8.50 per mile (one way from point of pick up to the health care facility)

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

To discuss options: 
Call the County Billing Company at 1-866-631-3116.
Contact the EMS Transport Reimbursement Patient Advocate at (240) 777 - 3636 
Email: MCFRS.EMSBilling@Montgomerycountymd.gov 

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. 

Ambulance/EMS Transport Fee

  • Basic Life Support (BLS) Emergency: $400
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS1) Emergency: $500
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS2) Emergency: $700
  • Mileage (per loaded mile): $10

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

The EMS billing program is described as a "compassionate" approach which means the direct financial impact to County citizens is minimized as much as possible. Any remaining co-payment or deductible after the insurance company is billed will not be charged to the County resident. 
 
The EMS billing program follows a philosophy that all persons will be treated with the highest level of care without respect to ability to pay. A waiver policy addresses situations in which there may be an inability to pay or that involve other special circumstances.

For Customer Service Billing Inquiries: 1-855-872-5300
EMS Medical Records: 703-792-6800
emsbilling@pwcgov.org

ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. 

Q: What happens to the fee if the person cannot afford to pay?

If a patient is unable to pay, they have to apply for a hardship waiver by completing an application and providing supporting documents that reflect their current financial situation. The documents include, but are not limited to copies of tax returns or copies of W-2 forms from employers.

Also, Arlington accepts documentation from the Department of Human Services showing the patient's enrollment in assistance programs and receiving benefits. The application and supporting documentation are reviewed once received, and it is possible for the patient to receive a complete or partial waiver of the ambulance fees.

Download Ambulance Fee Waiver on upper right hand corner of the Arlington site

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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