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View Diary: I tried to take a taxi instead of an ambulance yesterday... (43 comments)

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  •  Try $29,000 plus another $1,000 (11+ / 0-)

    Coming up on a three year anniversary I went to an ER in Chinle, Az to see about what turned out to be gastro-enteritus (a lot of vomiting and diarhea) which was on top of Diabetes, that at the time I didn't know about.

    They wanted me to go to a hospital for testing, for about a day or so.  The closest hospitals were about 150 miles away by air in any direction.  So they shipped me off.

    When I got the bill later, I was sticker shocked.  The ambulance ride, about a 3 mile ride was billed at over $1,000 (each way!)  THe air ambulance, over the desert at night, 150 miles was billed at $28,620.  

    I called everyone I could think of who could answer questions about what the charges were made of.  There was only a blank wall of black granite with no access.  Certainly no transparency.

    Arizona, like most states has a board somewhere that assesses what a reasonable rate it.  The people involved are vested interests.  They might as well be helping themselves to an assessment about a fair and reasonable ransom.

    $1,000 for an ambulance trip is not uncommon, even for a short trip down the block.  That seems to be regarded as a minimum standard.  

    Air ambulances generally advertise somewhat lower rates.  However, I heard from a woman in California who got charged about $28,000 for a very short run in a helicopter.  

    I think everyone ought to know what is going on with these little known vendors.  

    Also, you would think that insurance companies have an interest in keeping the costs down.  Not so.  Apparently, there is an interest in the excess profit somewhere in the system.  This is why the issue of cost control is pernicious.
    Costs rise and people accept it when the insurance company is willing to pay.

    After I raised the issue, the insurance company in this case negotiated the air ambulance fee down - to only $20,000.  

    I found out that, by contrast, the Bureau of Indian Affairs will only pay $1200 or so for the same 150 mile trip that I got charged $29,000 for.  I'd really like to see the actual financial model behind this.

    It makes me very skeptical of anything the insurance industry says, and a bit apprehensive about the likely success of any Congressional plan, by any name to actually force cost control on this system.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Fri Oct 16, 2009 at 11:34:01 AM PDT

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