Rethink That Ambulance Ride: Tip-of-the-Day #254

This may seem like an odd post, but I feel like it's my civic duty to inform the general public about a recent experience I had with an emergency visit.

Nutshell version: I didn't know that I was having a gall bladder attack late last year and in a panic, my boyfriend phoned for an ambulance. (Note: the pain is similar to that of a heart attack so we weren't completely overreacting). By the time the ambulance arrived, my attack had subsided but I was still encouraged to go to the hospital on a gurney. So I did.

Knowing that I had solid insurance through my place of employment, the last thing on my mind was the cost of the trip. Hah! Not long after, I received a bill in the mail for $2,500. Yep - you read that correctly, two thousand, five hundred dollars! I immediately contacted my insurance group thinking there had been a processing snafu, but that wasn't the problem at all. Most often insurance companies won't pay for an ambulance ride, even if medically necessary! I was flabbergasted and even tried to fight the claim through the state (if you ever read the fine print on the back of your statement it will walk you through this fruitless exercise). But alas, I was on the hook for that money and it had to come right out of my pocket.

Lesson learned: unless you truly believe you need on-the-scene medical attention, don't call an ambulance. That means, don't call 9-1-1 or the police department or the fire department. Jump in a cab. Call a family member. Call in a favor with a friend or neighbor for goodness sake! My nearest emergency room is only five minutes from my house and had I known that the ride wasn't "covered" I could have saved a lot of money. Break it down, that's $500 a minute! Crikey. So, I'm passing this wisdom along. Sigh.