‘Ridicu­lous’ am­bu­lance fee angers woman

Flat rate of $600 charged for am­bu­lance ride around the cor­ner

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE -

No mat­ter how far the dis­tance, trans­porta­tion by am­bu­lance has one rate — $600.

Am­bu­lance fees in Canada are not cov­ered un­der Medi­care or the Canada Health Act, says James Sul­li­van, di­rec­tor of emer­gency health and plan­ning ser­vices with Health P.E.I.

Sul­li­van’s depart­ment has been field­ing calls af­ter an Al­berta woman raised con­cerns in a Face­book post last week over a $600 bill for what she said was a 170-me­tre am­bu­lance ride.

Ac­cord­ing to Crys­tal Martell’s post, she passed out while at the phar­macy on Main Street in Al­ber­ton in De­cem­ber and an am­bu­lance was called.

She ini­tially de­clined trans­porta­tion, but once she be­came ill again she agreed. The hos­pi­tal was lo­cated just around the cor­ner.

In her post, Martell said she ex­pected a bill but termed the $600 fee “ridicu­lous.”

Sul­li­van said a flat rate of $600 is charged for the ser­vice, re­gard­less of dis­tance.

“It’s costed out at $600,” Sul­li­van said. “That’s, of course, look­ing at it on an an­nual ba­sis, fac­tor­ing in things like the num­ber of kilo­me­tres they drive, pro­fes­sion­als who have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

That’s the fee for Is­lan­ders, too, but the pro­vin­cial govern­ment sub­si­dizes three-quar­ters of that amount for its res­i­dents. There is no cost to P.E.I. se­niors, 65 and over, for emer­gency trans­port.

Al­though the amounts dif­fer by ju­ris­dic­tion, Sul­li­van said ev­ery Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tion sub­si­dizes the am­bu­lance rates for its res­i­dents, within their home prov­ince only.

“There’s no in­ter-pro­vin­cial re­cip­ro­cal health-care agree­ment in ground am­bu­lance,” he noted.

In­di­vid­u­als can ob­tain pri­vate in­sur­ance that would as­sist, and the cov­er­age is even em­bed­ded in some ma­jor credit cards, Sul­li­van noted.

“The mes­sag­ing from pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments and health­care ju­ris­dic­tions is al­ways to en­cour­age our res­i­dents to plan ahead, pur­chase travel in­sur­ance, look into the cov­er­age you may have, be­fore plan­ning your trip and head­ing out­side of your prov­ince,” he said.

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