By Alex Malm
Deputy Fire Chief, Fred Heinrich, discussed the fee structure for ambulance transports during the Jan. 23 Town Council meeting.
Heinrich explained that ultimately a certain portion of the costs of running an ambulance service is taken care of by the community and there’s a certain cost that is paid for by the subscribers.
While he wasn’t looking for any decisions during the meeting he said he wanted to present to the Town Council so they understand the different scenarios.
It was explained by Heinrich they currently have different rates depending on the severity of the call. For example, for basic life support the base rate is $509.17, for advanced life support 1, it’s $604.63, and for advanced life support 2, it’s $875.13.
From there they have additional charges depending on what is needed. It includes oxygen for $75, and IV Therapy for $150.
Heinrich said a basic life support cost in total is $733.47, for advanced life support one, it’s $1,128.93, and for advanced life support two, its $1,764.43. In comparison, Derry, Windham, Bedford, and Salem all charge more than that for their services.
One of the issues that Heinrich pointed to is that Medicare only pays a certain percentage of what the total bill is.
“They pay 80% of what they determine they want to pay,” said Heinrich.
In total about 74% of the patients they have are on Medicare, six percent are on Medicaid, 17% are through private insurance, and 3% are from other sources.
Out of all the calls they received in 2022, about 56% came from calls at home, 30% were from other locations, eight percent were from urgent care calls, and 6% were from assisted living facilities.
“Most of our medical calls come from people’s homes,” said Heinrich.
With the addition of assisted living facilities coming to town, Heinrich said he expects the number of calls they receive from them to go up.
“I assume that 6% is going to increase now that we have two,” said Heinrich.
Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, asked if they are billing enough to have the right level of service.
“This is a nationwide difficult discussion,” said Heinrich.
Heinrich said currently departments across the country have to submit their costs to Medicare to determine the costs associated with running ambulances.
One question raised was what happens if they are called to a home or other place and the patient isn’t transported.
Heinrich said in those cases the patient isn’t charged.
“They don’t go to the hospital, we don’t charge,” said Heinrich.
Heinrich also noted that they aren’t allowed to charge different rates for residents versus non residents, which is something they have looked into previously.