Does insurance cover ambulance?
Ambulance services are expensive and often require advance payment.
If you don’t have health insurance, you might wonder whether or not you should pay upfront before receiving treatment.
Ambulances are generally covered under private medical insurance plans.
They also offer emergency care at no cost to patients who meet certain criteria.
However, some states require you to purchase additional coverage from a separate provider called EMS (Emergency Medical Services).
This type of coverage is usually required by law and covers basic life support services. It does not cover ambulance rides.
Table of contents
- How Much Does an Ambulance Ride Cost?
- How Do I Know if My Plan Covers This?
- What if You Don’t Have Health Insurance?
- Which Types of Insurance Cover Ambulance Rides?
- When Does Insurance Not Cover the Cost of an Ambulance Ride?
- What is the Difference between Private and Public Insurers?
- How Much Do I Have to Pay Out-of-Pocket?
- Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does an Ambulance Ride Cost?
The price for an ambulance ride depends on the location where it takes place. In many cases, the patient must pay upfront in order to receive emergency care.
The amount charged will vary depending on factors such as:
- Where the service is performed
- How long the trip takes
- Whether the patient needs air transport
- What kind of equipment the ambulance has
Most people do not need to worry about this expense because they already have health insurance that covers these costs.
However, if you don’t want to be responsible for paying out-of-pocket expenses, you can ask your insurer what their policy is regarding ambulance bills.
How Do I Know if My Plan Covers This?
Most private insurance companies provide free information about their policies online.
Look up your company in the “Find My Plan” section of the website.
If you find that your plan doesn’t include ambulance coverage, contact your agent immediately.
If you don’t already have insurance, check with your state department of motor vehicles (DMV) to see if you qualify for Medicaid.
Many people with low incomes do not have access to private insurance.
If you do have health insurance, call your insurer to determine what benefits apply to your situation.
Some insurers may cover ambulance rides as part of their policy. Others charge extra for these services.
What happens when I arrive at the hospital?
When you arrive at the hospital, ask the nurse or doctor on duty whether they accept insurance. If so, they will fill out forms to help.
What if You Don’t Have Health Insurance?
If you don’t currently have health insurance, you may be able to get help with ambulance payments through Medicaid.
Some states provide assistance to low-income individuals. Other states allow residents to apply for financial aid through the state’s Department of Human Resources.
In addition, there are several programs available to help people without health insurance obtain emergency care. These include:
- Emergency Care for All – A program administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) – Provides funding for public health veterinarians to conduct free mobile clinics.
- Emergency Assistance Program – Offers grants to hospitals and other organizations that provide emergency care to uninsured patients.
- Community First Responder Network Authority (CFRNA) – Established by Congress to create a national network of volunteer first responders.
- Volunteer Emergency Medical Service (VEMS) – Volunteers provide emergency medical services to those who cannot afford them.
- 911 FreeCare – Helps families pay for emergency medical care for children.
Which Types of Insurance Cover Ambulance Rides?
Both car and health insurance help people pay for ambulance rides if these are medically necessary.
Usually, this means you need medical attention as soon as possible, like after a car crash or when you call 911 at home.
You may also need medical supervision while traveling from your doctor’s office to the hospital.
Insurance companies often do not cover the full cost of an ambulance ride.
Instead, they only reimburse a portion of the bill. The remainder must be paid out-of-pocket.
Some insurance plans include ambulance coverage. For example, some auto insurance policies offer coverage for ambulance transport.
In addition, many commercial insurance policies include ambulance coverage.
However, it is important to know exactly what type of coverage you have before using an ambulance.
When Does Insurance Not Cover the Cost of an Ambulance Ride?
Insurance does not always cover the costs of ambulance rides. This includes both privately insured and publicly insured patients.
Most private insurance plans only cover certain types of ambulance transports.
They may require preauthorization from the patient’s primary physician.
Publicly insured patients usually do not receive any reimbursement for ambulance transportation.
It is up to the individual hospital to decide how much to charge for ambulance service. Many hospitals waive their charges for uninsured patients.
However, most insurance companies do not cover the entire cost of transporting an injured person in an ambulance.
Instead, they only pay a percentage of the bill. The rest must be paid out-of-pocket.
What is the Difference between Private and Public Insurers?
Private insurers are typically large corporations with offices across the country. Their employees work directly with clients on a daily basis.
They can choose which doctors and hospitals to use. They also set their own rates.
In contrast, public insurers are state agencies that operate under strict guidelines. They are required to serve all residents regardless of income.
The federal government provides assistance to states through Medicaid programs. States then pass laws that determine eligibility requirements.
Most public insurers negotiate lower prices with providers than private insurers. They also limit how much money they will pay for services.
How Much Do I Have to Pay Out-of-Pocket?
Most insurance companies only reimburse a small amount of the cost of an ambulance ride, such as $1,000.
You must pay the remaining balance out-of-pocket unless you qualify for financial aid.
This could mean paying more than $2,500 for a single trip. If you need multiple trips, the total cost can easily exceed $10,000.
Many insurance plans require preauthorization from a physician. This process allows them to verify whether the patient needs emergency care.
If you cannot afford to pay the entire bill, you should contact your insurer immediately.
Your plan may provide additional options to help you pay for an ambulance.
For example, some plans allow you to borrow against future benefits. Others give you the option to purchase a rider at a discounted price.
You may also qualify for free or low-cost health care if you meet certain criteria.
These include being unemployed, having limited resources, or receiving disability payments.
Ambulances play an integral role in providing medical care during emergencies. However, some people lack adequate insurance coverage.
As a result, they often face significant expenses when needing emergency treatment.
It is important to understand your insurance policy before calling for an ambulance.
This way, you can avoid unexpected bills. You can also learn about other ways to obtain affordable healthcare.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cost can be nothing out-of-pocket in cities where services are covered by taxes, but usually ranges from less than $400 to $1,200 or more plus mileage.
Ambulance companies cite the costs of round-the-clock staffing, limited insurance reimbursements, and expensive inventory as reasons for high consumer bills. Ambulances provide everything necessary to save your life in an emergency and stabilize you on the way to a hospital ER.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover care you receive in the ER if you have an emergency medical condition. You don’t need to get approval ahead of time, and it doesn’t matter whether the hospital or facility is in or outside of your insurance network.