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Hmm, I’m hungry, think I’ll call an ambulance

October 26, 2010

Frequent Fliers Misuse Ambulances.

When you got a cold, or you bumped your leg, who you gonna call?

Health care costs are sky-rocketing.  That is a fact no one will dispute.  What is in dispute are the reasons.  This recent article from firefightingnews.com gives one very good reason:

One man last year called Rural/Metro Medical Services [New York – editor], the region’s busiest ambulance company, 313 times for a ride to a hospital. Two other people used the company’s ambulances more than 180 times. Still others received rides once or more a week.

Emergency medical technicians refer to these patients as “frequent fliers,” people who frequently request ambulance service simply because they can.

313 times in one year!  For those that go to SUNY, that is 52 instances short of once every day.  This must be the most injured/sick man on the planet.

Some of the various reasons people decide they have the right to be transported to the hospital include, “backaches [sic], sore throats, a prescription refill, alcohol detoxification, minor bumps and bruises, or just the possibility of a hot meal.”  Yeah, but that’s a just a very small minority right?  According to Univera Healthcare in a recent report, “More than 40 percent of the visits to emergency rooms in Western New York in 2008, whether by ambulance or other means of transportation, could be considered unnecessary”.

Firefightingnews.com contends this abuse of ambulances and the visiting of Emergency Rooms for every thing from colds to hot meals is the result of the disappearance of small practices and the family doctor.  As hospitals gobble up more and more private practices, the only choice for health care for many Americans is to visit the hospital.  According to the Washington Journal:

The turn toward consolidation among insurance companies is not new, and neither is it among doctors, hospitals and other providers. Yet the health bill has accelerated these trends, as all sides race to anticipate and manage political risk and regulatory uncertainty. This dynamic is leading to much larger hospital systems and physician groups…

Unfortunately, according to the facts, this means ambulance abuse will only increase.  But what are the monetary costs to the taxpayer of these “frequent fliers”?

At Rural/Metro [ambulance company – editor], an advanced life-support ambulance costs private insurers $800 to $1,000 per ride, and $500 to $600 for basic life-support services, according to Jay Smith, spokesman for the Buffalo office.

For patients on Medicare, the government health program for those 65 and older, the company receives about $395 for advanced life-support calls and $333 for basic life support.

So either private insurers are being charged more, or the government is being charged less – which do you think is happening?  But how much of the abuse is by people on the government dole?

The patients who misused ambulances — they tended to be poor, young adults and on Medicaid, the health program for the poor — also significantly underestimated how much an ambulance ride cost.

Does anyone honestly think an ambulance ride would cost a regular citizen who doesn’t live off the government $1000 if these poor people wouldn’t abuse the system?  The fact is our health care costs go up yearly because the people who do pay for services have to cover the one’s who don’t.  The compassionate side of me says we can’t turn people away, but abusing the system is the problem.  Conservatives generally do not have problems with the majority of progressive social programs out there, what we have problems with are the frequent and outrageous abuses we have to accept with a smile and a 1040.  Cut this crap out and only help the very few who need it, and conservatives would shut-up about it.  Is this racist, or elitist or whatever -ism you want to attribute?  I guess if telling the truth is bad, then yes.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. LD Jackson permalink
    October 26, 2010 9:40 pm

    Shoot, that one fella would have been better off just to move into the hospital permanently. 😉

    Honestly, the is the classic case of abuse because they can. It looks like it should be easy to correct, but doing would undoubtedly violate someone’s right to something.

    • October 26, 2010 10:42 pm

      Lol, good one. That’s exactly the problem. These ambulance companies can’t say no, because they don’t want to be sued, and then the hospital can’t say no, cause they don’t want to get sued. Plus, the second an ambulance denies an illegal alien or a minority the “right” to a free ride to the hospital, it will be front page news on the NY Times, so they also don’t want bad publicity. There is so much fault to go around, but it starts with our complete lack of self-responsibility.

      By the way, I have no idea what is going on with wordpress and you, it keeps marking all your comments as spam. So, FYI, if I accidentally miss a comment or something, please do not take it personally. =)

      • LD Jackson permalink
        October 26, 2010 10:49 pm

        Ahh, so that’s what’s happening. I am having that happen on almost every WordPress blog I have commented on. I haven’t a clue why.

      • October 27, 2010 12:42 am

        Sounds like a conspiracy, your name wouldn’t be Juan would it?

  2. LD Jackson permalink
    October 27, 2010 5:47 am

    Hmmm, let me check my driver’s license…………Nope, still the same old Larry Jackson.

  3. LD Jackson permalink
    October 27, 2010 5:48 am

    I am trying a comment without being logged into WordPress. Let’s see if it works.

    • October 27, 2010 9:56 am

      Still called you spam. Damn spammer, leave my blog alone! =)

  4. October 27, 2010 11:26 am

    It’s not just the people who call for rides who are abusing the system…I’ve had to argue with health professionals on the phone in order to keep an ambulance from coming to get me. Once when I sprained my ankle, once when my wife was having a panic attack, and another time when I was hypothermic (but someone was there to take me to the hospital).

    You’re right though, the system is abused. There’s a lesson to be learned here. Capitalism is considered a great evil by the left because they demonize a system where individuals can take advantage of a free market. In truth, people take advantage of social programs as well. The difference is that in capitalism the person who takes advantage of the free market tends to create wealth while the person who takes advantage of the social system creates bills.

    • October 27, 2010 12:02 pm

      Oh, your point is awesome. Having to refuse an ambulance, lol. Wonder why they do that? I am guessing,

      1. They know you have health insurance
      2. They can charge more for your “ride” because you are insured
      3. And possibly, some local legislation that makes them fearful of a lawsuit

      Waste across the board. But can you blame people for bowing to the social influences of over-regulation and government control?

      • October 27, 2010 10:00 pm

        No, I completely understand that action.

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