Monday, May 10, 2004

Billing muddles ambulance fee

Patients confused after receiving statements

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Residents here who receive a statement for costs stemming from ambulance transportation shouldn't mail a check.

Township officials say there is confusion over a new third-party billing system that allows the community to be reimbursed by insurance companies for supplies used during ambulance services.

Capt. Dick Santel, head of Emergency Medical Services, has received several complaints from confused residents.

"They were receiving statements that could have been construed as a bill or misleading," Santel said.

There have been at least two incidents in which people have paid the statement amount, which should have been paid by their insurance company. The money was returned by the township.

"We are inadvertently sucking money from families who can't afford it," said Catherine Stoker, trustee president.

In December, officials began working with Health Serve for third-party billing for ambulance services.

The intent, Stoker said, is to recover the $80,000 to $100,000 a year cost of supplies used by medics during runs.

Those funds were formerly paid by the hospitals until federal authorities began to question whether it could be viewed as an enticement to use a particular facility.

Officials said the statements received by residents should be forwarded to their insurance companies, and that residents should have no out-of-pocket costs.

Santel said he met with Health Serve representatives three weeks ago to ensure future statements would clearly read zero in the amount due column.

"The bottom line is it's new and as issues come up, we're working through them," said Fire Chief James Detherage.

Now we know the president does recycle
Lithuanian to get stem-cell help

Uninsured risk crushing bills
Where to get help with health costs
Culbersons keep up hope
Restoring the focus on faith
Springer weighs his options
Edwards slams abuse at Democrats' dinner
Bigger parade honors police
War experience made him an avid historian
Council inclined to delay vote on Lunken Airport ban
Police investigate shooting death
Local news briefs

Party guy stays up late
Prom regalia ducks the norm
Forest Service seeks ways to help Red River Gorge
Officer: Methadone most abused

Bug fear sends school events indoors
Spending critic elected
Digital imaging zaps braces, zits from yearbook photos
Northwest High School alumni inducted into athletic Hall of Fame

Billing muddles ambulance fee
Road project lands in court
Volunteer set to launch space-camp program
Miami researches digital health aids

Kate Bilbo, 21, excelled as both artist and writer
Edmond Talbott enjoyed family life in N. Kentucky