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How an ambulance ride to hospital can cost $1,000

Updated: May 2


An Ambulance parked outside of the Emergency Department of a Hospital

it really depends if an ambulance is called and if it is an excess payment is made.


How Ambulance Excess payments work


Let's say someone with health insurance calls for an ambulance in the USA.


Basically, an ambulance excess payment is the amount you pay out of your own pocket before your health insurance coverage kicks in. This is sometimes called a "copayment" or a "deductible".


For example, let's say you have health insurance with a $500 deductible and you need to take an ambulance ride.

The ambulance company may charge $1,000 for the ride, but you'll only be responsible for paying $500 out of your own pocket (assuming you haven't met your deductible yet). Your health insurance will cover the remaining $500.


How much can an ambulance excess cost?


Now, the actual dollar price of ambulance excess payments can vary quite a bit depending on your health insurance plan and the ambulance company you use.


Some plans have higher deductibles or copayments, which means you'll be responsible for more of the cost of the ambulance ride. On the other hand, some plans have lower deductibles or copayments, which means you'll be responsible for less of the cost.


To give you some real-world examples, we've seen ambulance excess payments range anywhere from $50 to $1,000 or more.


It really depends on your specific health insurance plan and the details of your ambulance ride.


For instance, if you live in a rural area and need to be transported a long distance to the nearest hospital, the cost of the ambulance ride may be higher than if you only need to go a few blocks.


In any life-threatening situation or when in doubt can an ambulance (disclaimer!)


What's the average wait time for an ambulance?


The average wait time for an ambulance in the USA varies depending on the location, the time of day, and the severity of the medical emergency.


According to a 2020 report by the National Academy of Sciences, the median response time for an ambulance in the US is around 8 minutes for urban areas and 14 minutes for rural areas. However, there can be significant variation within these ranges depending on the specific location and circumstances.


However, this figure can vary widely by state and by the population density of the area. For example, in rural states like Montana and Wyoming, the median drive time can be as high as 25-30 minutes, while in more densely populated states like New Jersey and Rhode Island, the median drive time is closer to 5-6 minutes.


It's also worth noting that these figures represent the median drive time, which means that half of all residents may have shorter drive times and half may have longer drive times


What's the average drive time to a hospital in the USA?


The average drive time to the nearest hospital for the average USA resident also varies depending on the location. According to a 2017 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the median drive time to the nearest hospital in the US is 7.0 minutes.


It's also worth noting that these figures represent the median drive time, which means that half of all residents may have shorter drive times and half may have longer drive times.


What is the percentage of unnecessary ambulance callouts?


The percentage of unnecessary ambulance callouts, also known as "low-acuity" calls, varies depending on the location and the definition used for such calls.


According to a 2018 report by the National Academy of Medicine, studies estimate that low-acuity calls make up anywhere from 12% to 60% of all ambulance transports in the US.


The variation in estimates is due to differences in the definitions used for low-acuity calls and differences in data collection methods across studies.


Some of the main causes of false positive ambulance callouts include:

  1. Minor injuries or illnesses: In many cases, people call for an ambulance for minor injuries or illnesses that do not require emergency medical attention, such as a common cold or a minor cut.

  2. Chronic conditions: Some people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, may call for an ambulance even when their symptoms are not life-threatening.

  3. Non-emergency situations: Ambulances are sometimes called for non-medical emergencies, such as when someone is locked out of their house or car.

  4. Lack of access to primary care: In some cases, people may call for an ambulance because they do not have access to primary care or do not know where else to turn for medical attention.

Reducing unnecessary ambulance callouts is an important issue because it can lead to increased healthcare costs and may divert resources away from people who truly need emergency medical care.


Some strategies for reducing unnecessary callouts include providing alternative forms of non-emergency medical transport, such as taxis or ride-sharing services, and educating the public about when it is appropriate to call for an ambulance.


How to create a simple emergency action plan that can help reduce a potential $1,000 ambulance ride to $10 taxi ride.


As you can see with false ambulance callouts ranging from 12% to 60% having a relatives (usually an elderly relative) who falls into one of the main 4 categories above and who has previously called out an ambulance once or a number of times unnecessarily can cost many thousands of dollars a year.


If you fall into this category, then it's a good idea to put into place an action plan that can easily be invoked with little thinking.


My SOS Family Emergency alert app could be provided which would immediately alert you that help is needed, a quick phone call to the person and talking to them about their needs may help you access if an ambulance is needed.


If one is needed , you can on any modern phone call 911 and have a three way call with you, the 911 operator and the person needing help (merge the call), or you can call the ambulance on their behalf.


An alternative is to work out where your nearest hospital is, one that has an A&E Dept. (Accident and Emergency Department) and how long it will take to drive there, then find a number of local taxi/cab firms that have plenty of drivers and work out the drive time to your home and from your home to the hospital, also consider the same for your doctors address and consider registering with Uber and other hail taxi services that operate in your area.


Set-up a way you can pay local taxi firms remotely.


Having a wide spread of support who ideally live close really helps too, friends, neighbours or family members.

Have their numbers and addresses saved on your phone or add their phone numbers as emergency contacts in your My SOS Family App.


You may also consider installing a key safe outside the property with a combination lock/code, you can then provide this to anyone helping should they need to enter the property and you can change the code after its been used/given out.


You now have an emergency action plan that is simple to use, provides peace of mind to everyone and can save you thousands of dollars in ambulance excess payments for unnecessary ambulance call outs.

Try the My SOS Family telecare emergency call out app free for 14 days today




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