Posts Tagged fire department to increase ambulance fees

Niles Fire Department news

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When people call 911 for ambulance service in Niles, their insurance company is charged a fee. Officials are considering increasing those fees to insurance companies after a proposal to set a flat $1,500 charge for paramedic ambulance service within the village.

Currently there is a tiered system for billing Niles residents versus non-residents with differing charges for basic life support, advanced life support.  Charges range from $500 for basic life support for a Niles resident to a $1,150 charge for advanced life support for a non resident. All vehicles responding to medical calls in Niles are considered top advanced life support, making a tiered system outdated.

Most North and Northwest suburban communities are now charging insurers $1,500 for all ambulance calls. The proposed change would bring Niles in line with those other communities. The proposal would include balanced billing, meaning that if the insurance company pays less than the entire amount, the village would accept the insurers payment and would not bill the patient for the difference. Under the proposal, charges would apply to Niles patients even if they were treated and transported by paramedics from another fire department responding to Niles as part of local mutual aid agreements.

Asked about charges for a non-insured patient who is transported by firefighters, the fire chief said, “It goes to billing. Each person would be looked at individually. The village can walk away (from collecting a bill), but it’s a process worked out with the billing company.”

The proposal may also need finance committee review before it is brought to trustees at a village board meeting for a final vote.

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Rockford Fire Department news

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On Monday, the Rockford Finance and Personnel Committee approved changes to ambulance service fees. The new policy would only charge insurance companies and eliminate costs to Rockford residents. Non-residents would still have to pay the outstanding balance.
City officials hope the move will give forest city residents some financial relief in the future. The change would also increase the transport fee to $1,500. Currently the fee for residents is $600 to $800 and about $1,400 for non-residents. The changes will not affect patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Early projections show the new flat fee will help the city’s bottom line.
The changes will be up for vote at the next full city council on Monday, April 29th. 

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Joliet Fire Department news

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The city of Joliet has increased fees it charges for ambulance services provided by the Joliet Fire Department. The $200 fee increases will have the biggest direct impact on people who live outside Joliet. The city bills Joliet residents for ambulance service but waives any portion of the bill not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. The waiver does not apply to nonresidents.

The new fees will be $1,800 for Basic Life Support, $1,900 for Advanced Life Support, and $2,000 for Advanced Life Support II. The mileage charge will go up by $3 a mile to $18 a mile. The higher fees are expected to generate an additional $195,000 for the city.

The city will not charge a fee for transport without medical treatment.

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved the fee increase. The last fee increase was in 2015. The city also plans to go out for bids on the billing service for ambulance fees. Joliet now uses Andres Medical Billing.

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Arlington Heights Fire Department news

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Arlington Heights will increase its ambulance transport fee by 275 percent, though officials say only uninsured nonresidents who use an ambulance while in town would actually have to pay the higher fees.

As of Nov. 1, the village will charge $1,500 per transport and add a charge of $12 per mile — though deductibles, co-payments, mileage or other associated costs for village residents would be waived under a plan approved by the village board this week.

That means a nonresident who isn’t covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid would have to pay the fee, though Deputy Fire Chief Bernie Lyons said the village would take a compassionate approach to the collection of fees.

Officials say patients who claim a hardship would be directed to the village’s emergency assistance program. Those who provide a hardship letter from their hospital could get a write-off, as is currently the case with homeless patients.

Arlington Heights now charges $400 to $450 to residents and $600 to $650 to nonresidents for ambulance transports — rates that have remained unchanged for 11 years.

Officials say they’re looking to fill a $900,000 budget gap caused by state cuts to the village’s share of income and sales tax revenues. They say the cost of providing emergency medical services also has risen, as has demand from residents. The fee hike would add $960,000 to the $1.7 million the village already collects in transport fees.

Trustee Tom Glasgow was the lone village board member to vote against the fee increase this week.

“We subsidize the parking garage, health clinic, police and chamber of commerce. If we can subsidize those things, we can subsidize this as well,” Glasgow said. “To raise it for people who truly can’t afford it, I have an ethical problem with that.”

Andres Medical Billing, the village’s billing contractor, reports its clients charge $350 to $2,600 per transport. Naperville recently raised its fee to $1,800, and Elgin is considering doing the same.

Private ambulance services on average cost $2,000 per transport.

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