LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Unhappy with recent ambulance service
In response to the letter regarding Ozark County Ambulance (“Clarifying questions about ambulance coverage,” Times, Feb. 7), Medicare participants, be aware you will be taken advantage of. I was not told I needed to go to the nearest hospital, even though my husband told the ambulance personnel what insurance I had – Medicare and supplement. I was just asked where I wanted to go, and I said to Mercy in Springfield because that’s where my records are.
The flu had hit me, and for five hours I was too weak to get out of bed. But I was supposed to walk out to the ambulance.
Board members, be aware this community is not getting good service. The ambulance billed Medicare separately, and Medicare wouldn’t pay. It was $1,200 total to go to Springfield, and I got socked with a $744 bill. I’m filing a Medicare appeal.
I will die before I call the ambulance again.
Jane Squires, Wasola
Ozark County Ambulance administrator
Eddie Delp responds:
HIPPA regulations prevent me from specifically addressing this issue in a public forum, but I can say that in the last few months, Medicare has begun to scrutinize medical bills more carefully, and the “nearest appropriate facility” requirement is being enforced more strictly than it was previously.
Ozark County Ambulance employees cannot be responsible for advising patients on how their medical coverage will pay. It’s impacted by many things, such as whether they have Medicare supplemental insurance, who it’s with, or whether it’s an HMO or PPO.
Also, this year, Medicare replaced the ICD-9 billing codes with ICD-10 billing codes, which increased the number of medical codes tenfold. The new billing codes are much more specific, and symptoms that were allowed before may now be disallowed. Also, paragraph 3 on page 36 of the 2018 Medicare Handbook, sent to all Medicare recipients, says Medicare will only pay for ambulance transport to the nearest appropriate medical facility.
Ozark County Ambulance District personnel will be instructed to advise patients of this coverage issue. But as they do, I anticipate complaints from patients saying ambulance personnel are “trying to talk me out of going to my hospital because it is too far away.”
I cannot stress enough that people need to be knowledgeable of their insurance coverage.