Nobody wants to get hit with a hefty medical bill, but when an emergency develops, the financial ramifications take a back seat to ensuring that you have access to the best medical care. Oftentimes an ambulance can help ensure you have access to this urgent medical care, but there are typically costs associated with an ambulance dispatch or transportation. Since most people haven’t experienced many rides in an ambulance, we often get asked about the cost of an ambulance and whether or not insurance will cover the service.
In today’s blog, we try our best to help explain how much ambulance services typically cost and whether or not insurance or Medicare will help with these expenses.
How Much Does An Ambulance Ride Cost?
The total cost of an ambulance ride will depend on a few different factors, including how far the ambulance travels during transport and what type of services the individual receives at the scene and during their ride. So while we can’t sit here and say that it costs exactly this much to have an ambulance respond to your emergency situation, a standard trip without insurance typically ranges between $1,100 and $1,500.
Every insurance carrier is different, and it’s your responsibility to know what your policy covers. EMS personnel are not going to be able to tell you at the scene whether or not your insurance is accepted, but in general, health insurance carriers typically agree to provide coverage if the ambulance dispatch is considered “medically necessary.” As you might imagine, “medically necessary” is a bit of an interpretive definition, but ambulance services are typically considered medically necessary if it’s the only safe way to transport a patient or provide them with appropriate medical care.
Generally speaking, if an emergency exists such that you feel the need to call an ambulance, part of the cost of the ambulance will be covered by your insurance policy. Every insurance policy varies and has different deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket limits, so again, it’s difficult to say exactly what to expect in terms of a bill, but odds are your health insurance will provide some coverage for emergency care.
What About Medicare And Medicaid?
Similar to private health insurance, Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid provide coverage for ambulance services so long as the transport has been deemed medically necessary. Coverage typically extends to the nearest appropriate emergency facility, so you may not be able to choose which facility you’re taken to if there are other facilities that are appropriate for your needs.
Non-emergency ambulance transportation is usually only covered if you’ve received prior authorization and you have a written order from your doctor stating that medical transportation is necessary. For example, a patient undergoing dialysis for a kidney disorder may have their non-emergency medical transportation expenses partially or fully covered.
Medicare Part B does not cover the full cost of an ambulance ride. Medicare will cover 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount after you’ve met the yearly Part B deductible. Last year, 20 percent of the Medicare-approved trip cost after meeting the yearly Part B deductible was $203.
Finally, many people want to know if they can refuse ambulance services after they arrive on scene. For example, if you fainted while you were walking home from the Appleton Farmers Market and someone called for an ambulance, you may not think that a medical evaluation at a hospital is necessary once you’ve regained consciousness. However, refusing ambulance services doesn’t get you off the hook for the bill. Because there are costs associated with dispatching a unit to your location, and because this pulls resources from others in the community who may need emergency services, there will typically be a charge for the resources dispatched to your care, even if you refuse medical transport.
Again, all of this is general information, and for more specific advice, reach out to your health insurer or Medicare office for more individualized information.