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Albemarle County Announces Several Important Changes to Ambulance Transportation Billing Program

Albemarle County Fire Rescue officials are announcing two important changes to the County’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Cost Recovery program related to ambulance transportation.

On August 1, 2014, Albemarle County will initiate a Residents Program that will eliminate billing of residents and will only bill their insurance companies and non County residents for ambulance transport.  It has always been Albemarle County’s goal to only collect for ambulance transport from insurance companies and non-residents, and the County recently received approval from the Office of the Inspector General to implement this Residents Program. 

The County began the EMS Cost Recovery program in 2010. Currently, the County ambulances in Hollymead, Monticello, Pantops, RT29N and Ivy, as well as the Scottsville Volunteer Rescue Squad, are participating in the program.  As of September 1, 2014, the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad and the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Company will also be participating.

The EMS Cost Recovery program is an effort to recover the costs of emergency medical services associated with transporting a patient to the hospital by ambulance.  Medicaid, Medicare, and most other private insurance policies allow for payment for this service. This cost recovery program has been implemented successfully by more than 40 localities and 50 volunteer rescue squads in Virginia to recover funds to support the increasing costs of providing EMS services to a growing population.

Citizens may be assured of several key points about EMS Cost Recovery:

  • No one will ever be denied EMS treatment or transport based on their ability to pay.
  • If you are not transported to the hospital as part of the EMS response, there will be no bill.
  • Most insurance policies, including Medicare and Medicaid, already allow for reimbursement for this service.
  • Albemarle County residents will not be responsible for anything beyond what their insurance pays, if they have insurance. If they do not have insurance they will not be billed.
  • Non-residents who are unable to pay their balance after all applicable insurance is collected will be treated with compassion and provided with options to ensure that financial hardship is avoided, with the bottom line being that people who cannot pay will not have to pay.

The County is focused on collecting reimbursement from insurance companies who are already charging policy holders for this service.  Without Cost Recovery, those funds go untapped by the County and the burden of paying the increasing costs of providing EMS services in the County falls solely on our taxpayers. Funding made available through cost recovery is used to offset the rising operating and capital costs associated with supporting our rescue squads and other EMS service providers, helping them to continue providing the best possible service to the County’s citizens.

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