Three Things You Need To Know About Ambulance Services

If you have never ridden in an ambulance for anything, count yourself lucky. Most who do end up riding in an ambulance do so because they need to, and because they (or someone near and dear to them) are having a medical emergency. If you have ridden in an ambulance for any reason, you might have been surprised to receive a bill for the ambulance's services that was separate from the hospital bills. There are reasons for that, and there are also a few other things you should know about ambulance services before you make a decision to use one to get to a hospital fast (versus driving to the hospital yourself when it is not too far). 

Despite Ambulances Parked Inside Hospital Garages, They Are Outsourced

The reason why you receive a separate bill for ambulance services is because ambulances are typically outsourced. There are about a half dozen major ambulance companies in operation in North America, and they are distributed in different regions. Each of these companies offers their ambulances and ambulance service to hospitals and health care clinics that accept emergency patients. The hospital passes the daily ambulance use logs on to the ambulance companies with which they contract services, and then the ambulance companies bill patients for their services rendered. So, even though several ambulances may come squealing out of a hospital garage, the ambulances are not typically property of the hospital (or the clinic). 

Ambulance Rides Are Not Covered by Insurance Companies

Most health and medical insurance providers do not cover ambulance rides. As odd as that sounds, the assumption is that most patients do have other means of getting to a clinic or hospital. The only services provided by EMTs that are covered are resuscitation, drug overdose reversals, heart attacks and defibrillators, and medications that can help revive people from almost any medical emergency or health condition. It is a rare health insurance policy that covers most of the cost of an ambulance ride, which means that most patients receive a bill for the full amount. Even if there is a co-payment because your insurance covers it, the co-payment is higher than what you might expect. 

More Than One Ambulance Company May Have a Contract with a Hospital or Clinic

Unless an ambulance company arranges exclusive contract rights with a hospital or clinic, more than one ambulance company may have a service contract with that hospital or clinic. Ergo, a patient who rides in an ambulance may not ride in the same ambulance twice. It just depends on which ambulance and its EMTs are working and in the hospital or clinic garage when the emergency call comes in.