Ambulance Services Could Cost Communities


Tuesday, November 25th 2008, 7:51 pm
By: News 9


By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma City residents could soon be asked to pay a monthly fee for ambulance service.

EMSA remains Oklahoma City's emergency transport service of choice, but instead of the city subsidizing the service, city residents would pick up the tab, which would save the city money.

Emergency transports aren't cheap, whether a person has insurance or not, out-of-pocket expenses for an ambulance run can run well into the hundreds of dollars.

Under an ordinance being discussed Tuesday by the city council, residents could opt to pay about $4 a month on their utility bill, and then have no additional billing for an EMSA transport.

"Whether you're insured, whether you're not insured, whether you have medicare or Medicaid," said Tina Wells of EMSA. 

Residents could also choose to opt out and not pay the fee.

"If you opt out, you will still receive ambulance service, you will just be billed the full rate, which right now is $720 per emergency transport, but could be increased," Oklahoma City Finance Director Laura Johnson said.  

Emergency transport fees are becoming more common across the country. Oklahoma City officials believe it can work in Oklahoma, saving the city millions and providing citizens with added peace of mind, at a cost of about $4 a month.

Council will take up the EMSA transport fee again in three weeks, if they approve it, all Oklahoma City residents will be enrolled as of next September 1, those wishing to opt out would have a month to do so.

When the city of Tulsa started the program last year, we're told only about six percent of residents decided to opt out.