County board slashes EMS ambulance fees for residents

Some charges cut in half

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OSCODA COUNTY — The county board has cut the costs of EMS ambulance runs for all residents.

The vote to reduce the costs at the March 12 commissioners meeting was unanimous. Commissioner Chuck Varner said this was the right thing to do.

“The county residents deserve not to be raked (over) when paying for an ambulance,” he said. “It’s very beneficial for county residents to have these fee lowerings.”

The discussion began in late February when EMS Director Bob Hunter asked the board to consider the fee drops. Hunter said the run costs had been this way for years since the previous full-time EMS director left the position.

“The biggest reason for the change is the previous director raised the rates before she left, and no one was informed she did it,” he said. “They were pretty astronomical rates.”

Previously the county charged $1,400 per advanced life support ambulance call, and $25 per mile the ambulance traveled on that run. That fee has been cut by more than half to $650 per call and $15 per mile. Hunter said the new fee suggestions were compiled after looking at 10 other services in the region.There are other fee drops as well: for more information on those see the table beneath this story.

Hunter said the lower rates are not going to result in a significant loss of revenue for the service. The example he gave was that if residents get a bill for upward of $1,000 for an ambulance run, they are going to be hard pressed to pay that back. Lowering the rates could bring the cost to a more reasonable $300 to $400, which residents would be more capable of making payments on.

“It’s crazy to overbill people,” Hunter said. “The people were willing to vote in an EMS millage to make sure we can keep running. So this is a way to give back to them.”

While there was discussion about possibly implementing an additional cost for out-of-county residents, that idea was eventually discarded. Hunter said after attempting to find a way to implement that idea, he came to the realization that it would be more trouble than it is worth to do so.

While the cost reduction was significant, Hunter said the county’s service is still charging roughly 10-15 percent more than the surrounding areas. He said that is due to the fact that it has a larger area to cover when traveling to various calls.

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