October 29, 2008

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Pay your ALS bill

CARMEL—TransCare, a highly recognized emergency services provider throughout the U.S., has begun providing Advanced Life Support Services to residents of Putnam County.

Commissioner of Emergency Services Robert McMahon told the Courier while the provider has been affording “excellent service” to those in need the company is running into a problem with consumers not paying their bills.

TransCare signed a contract with the county for $1.2 million that allows for four paramedics to be assigned to the county 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “In the world of emergency medicine, the contract is fair but the cost doesn’t begin to cover the bills of the Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider.”

When TransCare provides an ALS intervention by providing an IV or administering cardiac drugs or defibrillating a patient, a bill is submitted for Advanced Life Support services and the patient is expected to pay for the assistance. McMahon said bills were “ala carte depending on the service provided. The average ALS bill runs around $500.”

Most insurance companies pay for the overwhelming majority of the cost incurred; however, “if the insurance company fails to pay, the patient is expected to make reimbursement,” McMahon said.

McMahon reported that many patients are failing to submit their bills to an insurance carrier: “There seems to be a misconception that because the county was paying a stipend the individual is not financially responsible. This is definitely not the case. We are asking that bills be forwarded to insurance companies and if a patient cannot afford to pay the balance, we suggest contacting the ALS provider and working the payment out with them since they are fair people.”

McMahon noted there was an exception to the billing rule—those individuals covered by Medicare: “When a Medicare patient is provided service, the ALS provider is reimbursed through Medicare and by law must accept as full payment whatever they receive with no follow-up bills submitted.”

TransCare Regional Director Robert Stuck said his company has been providing 911 services to municipalities both large and small for many years. “We are the 911 provider for White Plains, New Rochelle and Wappingers Falls. TransCare also provides emergency services for the Fire Department of New York City. Our company has extensive experience and personnel available to provide the best level of care.”

Mc Mahon said the reality of the billing problem will be troublesome for Putnam County if it not remedied because “if the ALS provider has to write off too much bad debt they will be forced to demand a stipend from Putnam County governmental coffers. People will pay either way!”

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