Mayor Annise Parker is considering increasing ambulance fees in Houston. We’re not just talking about an increase to account for inflation. No, they might more than double the fees! Right now, it costs $415 plus $7.50 per mile for an ambulance. The proposed change is going to be $800 plus $16.00 per mile.
The reason for this madness? Our fees are currently lower than in other cities. Well Houston, sound the alarm and sirens (pun intended) because we pay less!!! What kind of reasoning is this? Since when should we follow the failing models of other cities?
I would imagine that you are pretty mad by now, as you should be, but there’s more to this story: “about 53 percent of the fees for the more than 140,000 transports the Houston Fire Department completes each year, and has no real mechanism for forcing people to pay. The city does not report non-payment to credit bureaus. Although the existing ambulance fee brings in $31 million a year, doubling the cost only will bring in an additional $5.5 million because Medicare and Medicaid would continue to reimburse at the same rate they do now.” (Source: Houston Chronicle).
53% of fees are collected?? I am going to state the obvious here: how about making people pay their fees before increasing the cost for everyone else? If we get the 47% of those not paying to pay, isn’t that just about the same as doubling our fees without burdening and punishing those who do pay? Also, if you double fees and still don’t do anything about those who don’t pay, I suspect a lot more people won’t pay. Well, at least I thought that was obvious, but the City clearly doesn’t get it.