Kirkland Begins Ambulance Transport User Fee Program March 1

Note: We have received the following request from a local cardiologist which we think is an important reminder:

[box type="alert"]Please highlight that Medic One, 911 calls, are still "free" and include "free" transportation.  I don't want my patients, or anyone with chest pain, to hesitate calling 911 because they are afraid that they might not be able to afford the ride or the service.[/box]

On March 1, 2011, the Kirkland Fire Department will initiate its Basic Life Support (BLS) Transport User Fee Program. The program was established to create a sustainable revenue source to support essential medical services and provides for the reimbursement to the City for the cost of an ambulance ride. The program applies to patients who are transported by the City of Kirkland Fire Department to a medical facility. The City will bill persons who are transported by the Fire Department from within the City of Kirkland and King County Fire District No. 41 service areas. Persons without insurance will be billed for the full fee but may be eligible for financial assistance. The transport fee is $600 plus $14 per mile. For program details, go to www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/emstransport.

“No one will ever be denied service based upon ability to pay or whether they have health insurance,” notes Fire Chief Kevin Nalder. “Ambulance transport is a standard service covered by insurance companies and we estimate that more than 90% of patients we transport have health insurance.”

If a patient requires Advanced Life Support treatment and transport, the user fee will not apply as those services in King County are provided regionally and fully funded by the voter-approved King County EMS (Medic One) levy.

Patients already pay for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) transportation coverage in their health insurance premiums and insurance companies recognize that ambulance transportation is a normal cost associated with patient care during medical emergencies. The City has contracted with a third party billing service company, System Design West.

For specific information about Kirkland’s BLS Transport User Fee Program, contact Capt. Mark Jung at 425-587-3650 or mjung@ci.kirkland.wa.us.