Montgomery ambulance fee

Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 9:47 PM

Montgomery County's ambulance fee is coming before voters in a Nov. 2 referendum. County officials have outlined who would pay and under what circumstances. Here's a summary:

County residents:

County residents will not be billed for the ambulance fee, whether or not they have insurance, according to county officials. Insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid will be billed directly.

The county will set aside money to cover co-pays or deductibles, and any possible disputes with insurers would be handled by the county, Montgomery spokesman Patrick Lacefield said. The county will accept the insurers' standard payment for ambulance service. So if the county charges $600, and the insurance company pays $300, the county will take that as payment in full, Lacefield said.

Outside residents:

For people who live outside Montgomery and have medical insurance, bills will be sent to their insurers.

Those without insurance would get a bill. They would have the fee waived under the following conditions: they earn three times the federal poverty guideline or less; and they apply for a hardship waiver and include the required financial information.The threshold in 2010 would be $32,490 for an individual, and $66,150 for a family of four.

Insured non-county residents could have their co-pays and deductibles waived under the same hardship program, if they are eligible.

No change in who gets an ambulance:

"If you would have gotten taken before the ambulance fee, you're going to get taken after the ambulance fee," said acting County Attorney Marc Hansen. The service will be the same for all. "If you're indigent, they're not going to just throw you in the back seat and take you. They're going to treat you just like they would anybody else," Hansen said.

- Michael Laris

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