County Considering Ambulance Fees

Albemarle County is looking at charging for ambulance fees, Jeremy Borden writes in the Progress, ending the practice of supporting the cost solely through public funding. The county doesn’t know what they’d charge, but Borden points out that Hanover charges $350—$575, and that insurance generally covers about 80% of that price. Charlottesville looks likely to do the same thing with its new paid ambulance service, due to start later this year.

22 thoughts on “County Considering Ambulance Fees”

  1. The way I read the article the fire chief is proposing that CARS also start to charge. Mr. O’connell, I believe, is suggesting somewhere near $500 per trip. I guess this grand plan was explained behind the scene to the committee formed by the former Mayor Brown, resulting in a weird vote by email after the meeting adjourned. It’s getting to where our tax money is going to pay salaries, but if we want a service by these employees, we pay extra for it. Government exists to provide its employees with jobs. Why not drop the plans for the new expensive for-fee service and let the City residents continue to use and support CARS? Gary O’Connell has he hand so deep in peoples pockets, if it were on film it would be considered pornographic. I wonder if he’s going to charge the Council members to fly the Tibetan flag?

  2. I’ve never heard of a jurisdiction charging citizens who require the services of a volunteer rescue squad. No need to donate any more $ to CARS in that case, right?

  3. When CARS leaves its volunteer status then it becomes just another big government spending program. In years to come the rescue squad will become another sink hole with no bottom for taxpayer money. It won’t take long for insurance companies to figure out that this is a government program and they will no longer pay for rescue squad assistance and transportation to the hospital.

  4. Reading the county’s proposal, it looks like the money collected by the volunteer agencies will go back to the county for redistribution. This seems kind of ridiculous and I’m sure the volunteer agencies are not going to see much of the money they worked hard for – especially with the current budget shortfall.

    Also, what if CARS, Western Albemarle Rescue, and Scottsville rescue decide NOT to collect money? That would mean if the county’s ambulance is tied up, and one of the volunteer agencies picks up a 911 call in the county ambulance’s response area, that person wouldn’t have to pay. So whether you pay or not would depend not only on where you live in the county, but how busy the system is. Seems like if the county wants the volunteer agencies on board with revenue recovery, those agencies should get to keep every dollar they collect.

  5. Won’t this effectively end donations to keep the rescue squad going? Why would I donate and then have to pay for the services if I need them?

    And will health insurance pay for this? What about those of us who don’t have $500 to pay? Do we make payments? Do we get our wages garnished? Our state tax refund witheld? Who will enforce this and collect the money from citizens? The city? The county?

  6. I have to wonder how many people are going to toss an injured child or sick adult in their cars and break every traffic law known to mankind while rushing this person to a local emergency room. Especially those without insurance, the ones who don’t qualify for a free ride, and those who feel they can’t afford a $500 fee. And what about those who don’t want to pay $100 after insurance pays the other 80% of the $500 fee?

    And with a “paid” professional rescue service vs the profesional CARS, how much deadwood will be needed at the top? There’s always deadwood at the top of any city or county division, we all know this. Just a director and assistant director should add up to at least $300,000 or more in salary and benefits right out the door. I don’t for one minute believe fire personnel will run the show in the long run.

  7. Does anyone still believe it is just by happenstance that, as the County is expanding its fire and rescue services, that the City is also, and that have independently come up with the idea of a fee-based EMS service? Didn’t anybody smell last week’s fish when former Mayor Brown’s committee adjourned and most of its deciding votes were cast later by email (only the two people associated with CARS voting against?) Does anybody think it’s just coincidence that the County is extending its fire services contract with the City until 2013, long enough for the City to design and build its luxurious fire station in the Fontaine area where the County has not announced plans for a new fire station? The City and County’s plans fit too well together for coincidence. Maybe, by the time the two services merge, Wily Werner the Weasel and Greedy Gary the Gouger will have moved on to greener pasteurs (meaning gotten jobs elsewhere).

  8. Well, just another typical city-county cluster—- which was all probably pre arranged as C’Ville Eye mentions. WAY to big of a coincidence.

    Did anyone ask any citizens THEIR opinion of a for profit rescue squad? Wait til the bills start pouring in for an ambulance ride. Maybe then folks will wake UP.

  9. I had a stroke in 2003. I was gonig north on 29. I pulled in at forest lake U V A hosp. They called pegias ambulance . It cost me over $1400.00 to ride to the U V A E R. The U V A added it to my bill. No ins so I had to pay the bill. Thats over $200.00 per mile.What a RIPOFF.

  10. Pegasus is owned by UVA, so it’s entirely separate from the city or county.
    Just to clarify, is this what local government wants citizens to swallow? Up until now, we could give tax deductible donations to CARS and get free ambulance service. Soon, we will be paying for the rescue squad with our taxes AND we pay $500 if we need service?

  11. Edward – when an ambulance is activated from a UVA owned medical facility, you will get charged by UVA for the entire service. This is very different from the 911 system for the rest of the city/county.

  12. Well that’s the thing. No one will want to donate. So the squad will be forced to support themselves on the revenue from the $500 trips. Wonder if anyone crunched the numbers and figured out which is more profitable-charging $500 or staying with the yearly fundraiser?

    I highly doubt if I am sick or injured and require an ambulane ride I will be whipping out my checkbook or credit card to pay for my ride. So there will be lag time as to when CARS will receive my payment. And then what if I don’t have the money.
    It appears to be an “iffy” budget. At least with donations they get the money to run the operation.

  13. We live in a great country with what I believe is the worlds best health care. If you have a minor fender bender, an ambulance, firetrack and qualified paramedics are with you within minutes. If the same thing happened to you in some of the poor regions of the world, you would end up rotting on the side of the road. I’d pay the fee because I like living…JC

  14. Is JC Clark saying the proposed system is preferrable to the one we have now?
    Let’s see if I understand what the County’s proposal is.
    1) Tax payers will build fire stations and equip them with fire trucks and ambulances.
    2) Tax payers will pay the salaries and benefits of the employees, including those delivering the EMS services.
    3) However, to have the employees that they pay to be in these facilities and on the job, they actually will pay extra to have them do the work they are already paid to do. In other words, they’re paid up front to “be” and they’re paid again later to “do.” Have I gotten the scenario wrong? Please correct me, because in this day of governemtn high finance, I may have over-looked a step. jogger, I know you’re on it and I’m waiting.

  15. This is why the US spends 16% of its GDP on healthcare, and rising. We’re wasteful – spending money on a service we’re already getting for very cheap. If patients start getting charged, and insurance carriers have to start footing the bill, then insurance premiums will at some point be affected. Ridiculous. Supporters say that we’re already paying for the service in our premiums. While the service may be COVERED by insurance, if insurance companies have to dish out more money, of COURSE they’ll pass along the costs to us…

  16. bleh, I’ve never heard elected officials say what you’ve said. They never talk in terms of ramifications. Good point.

  17. Still trying to understand the scenario. Who will be paying for the employees’ training? Taxpayer or tax payer?

  18. I know U V A owns pegasus. I am just saying when you give a blank check to ANYONE they get to put in the amount. I would have called a cab. Much less than $300.00 a mile. If they start there will be no end. I do know CARS does a great service and someone has to foot the bill. I guess we are crying because it’s been free but where does free come from.

  19. I listened to the podcast at Charlottesville Tomorrow. it was kind of funny when Gary O’Connell informed Council that he and the County have a committee functioning without Council’s knowledge working on a joint billing plan for both the City and County and the volunteer EMS. It seems the fire bullies are planning to force CARS, Western Albemarle and Scottsvile Rescue Squads to start billing. Since Gary O’Connell doesn’t know how to speak distinctly, I’m not sure, but I think I heard him say that the City is planning to use some of CARS’s ambulances. It appears our spineless Council has sat back and allowed the City to commandeer CARS. If you really want to see who’s running whom, listen to audio. Unfortunately, it’s one and a half hours of misery. I’m sorry I referred to our Councilors as lapdogs. Lapdogs bark. They actually remind me of waterboys.

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