‘Ridiculous’ ambulance bill angers Alberta woman

Eric McCarthy, The Guardian
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

An Alberta woman is raising concerns about the costs of an ambulance bill in P.E.I.

Flat rate of $600 charged for ambulance ride around the corner

ALBERTON – No matter how far the distance, transportation by ambulance has one rate - $600.

Ambulance fees in Canada are not covered under Medicare or the Canada Health Act, says James Sullivan, director of emergency health and planning services with Health P.E.I.

Sullivan’s department has been fielding calls after an Alberta woman raised concerns in a Facebook post last week over a $600 bill for what she said was a 170-metre ambulance ride.

SO WHAT IS THE COST BREAKDOWN FOR AMBULANCE SERVICES, CLICK HERE TO SEE

 

According to Crystal Martell’s post, she passed out while at the pharmacy on Main Street in Alberton in December and an ambulance was called.

She initially declined transportation but, once she became ill again, she agreed. The hospital was located just around the corner.

In her post, Martell said she expected a bill but termed the $600 fee “ridiculous.”

Sullivan said a flat rate of $600 is charged for the service, regardless of distance.

“It’s costed out at $600,” Sullivan said. “That’s, of course, looking at it on an annual basis, factoring in things like the number of kilometres they drive, professionals who have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

That’s the fee for Islanders, too, but the provincial government subsidizes three-quarters of that amount for its residents. There is no cost to P.E.I. seniors, 65 and over, for emergency transport.

Although the amounts differ by jurisdiction, Sullivan said every Canadian jurisdiction subsidizes the ambulance rates for its residents, within their home province only.

“There’s no inter-provincial reciprocal health-care agreement in ground ambulance,” he noted.

Individuals can obtain private insurance that would assist, and the coverage is even embedded in some major credit cards, Sullivan noted.

“The messaging from provincial governments and health-care jurisdictions is always to encourage our residents to plan ahead, purchase travel insurance, look into the coverage you may have, before planning your trip and heading outside of your province,” he said.

 

 

 

Organizations: Health P.E.I.Sullivan

Geographic location: Alberta, Canada, P.E.I. N.B.P.E.I.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Ann
    January 30, 2016 - 10:43

    I was in Alberta in Nov /15, and in need of an ambulance, within a few blocks of the U ofA, I too recieved a hefty bill, a little over 600.00 , I paid it without complaint because I knew it wouldn't be subsidized, however, I did hope there would be some relief from my Province when I returned, but there was nothing. A lesson learned, travel insurance does come in handy,

    • Fed up
      January 31, 2016 - 09:52

      "Island"EMS?!? The company is from Nova Scotia!!

  • GetReal
    January 28, 2016 - 13:12

    Come off it... @NewsJunkie.... got news for you .... your money is being spent willy-nilly. Why should anyone coming to PEI from another province have to get travel insurance to pay for second class ambulance service to travel under 200 meters at a cost of $600. I stood over an injured person who was hit by a car in Victoria Park a few years ago awaiting an ambulance, that couldn't exceed the speed limit, and took 45, yes, 45 - minutes to get there. The fire and police departments were there in minutes. Who pays for those services? Does the police charge out-of-province visitors if their services are required? Not likely. We want people to come to PEI and spend money so why can't the tax dollars garnered from that money be spent towards helping Canadian visitors to PEI when they require it? She should not have to pay more than we do and even $200 for an ambulance ride of that distance is ridiculous.

  • NewsJunkie
    January 28, 2016 - 09:13

    What's the news here? Do we want our provincial government footing the bill for out of province travelers to come here and get everything for free, yet not pay into the system? KUDOS to Health PEI on taking a stand for Islanders and protecting the system, they get 50% of the provincial budget - thank god they are looking out for the ones who actually pay into the system and have some controls so the $ isn't spent willy-nilly.

    • Dave
      January 28, 2016 - 14:42

      I don't agree that her ride should be covered, but your argument is weak. Half the provincial budget of PEI comes from Federal transfers, so in reality, all 10 provinces are the ones paying into this system.

  • Ross
    January 28, 2016 - 09:04

    For those unfamiliar with the Alberton layout, the distance of the hospital to the pharmacy is the same of Walmart to Old Navy (if that). Yep, that ridiculous. On top of that, you can see the Island EMS dispatch located on Church Street across the Save Easy grocery store parking lot and the hospital from the main entrance at this pharmacy. I know, big trip required today. So I can see why she is upset of the ambulance fee and plus I would like some other questions. Was she alone or with her husband or a friend with vehicle? Who called the ambulance? If that person was with a friend could they not have looked out the window and said BTW the Western Hospital is right there if you think you can drive her there.? On top of that, one never knows one day to the next the available services offered at Western Hospital during this new CEC model of health care. So...... if this was something where the model couldn't have accommodated her leading to the necessity to transfer her to Summerside hospital (or Charlottetown, Moncton, Saint John or Halifax if necessary) would she have been charged a 2nd ambulance at what is now a total cost of $1200? I understand if ambulances can not be covered under the full health care model especially with seniors getting it free and SOME of them abusing it (i chose my words careful because yes some call one for a stuffy nose, I've seen it), perhaps we need to work with other provinces to see how we can better offer a nation wide ambulatory service. This woman didn't intend to have to visit our hospital or travel in an ambulance during her visit to PEI. She admits a bill was expected, but let me say this....... I'd be sour knowing where I am in Alberton to be told I'm being charged the smaller portion of the bill to travel in an ambulance knowing where I'm going. She probably also is angered because she is aware the service she got. No fault to the paramedics, they just responded to a call. But all she did was sit in the ambulance, make the quick trip down Poplar Street and then get escorted into the hospital. Even if she was in a stretcher, I say it was just mandatory precautions and not required. When I go shopping in Moncton, visiting in Halifax, see a Leafs game in Toronto etc, I have no intentions of needing a trip to the hospital. But I would like to know that if I did that I would get the same treatment as if I were in PEI. That is the service we should have offered this woman.

    • nitpicker
      January 28, 2016 - 11:42

      your answer is a pretty simple google search away, Ross. In Nova Scotia, as an example, the costs is 730 for out of province people. $146 for residents. I suspect you will find similar practices all over.

    • NewsJunkie
      January 28, 2016 - 12:21

      So what's your solution? Free ambulatory care for tourists and visitors to the province? Are you okay with in turn, hiking the HST up to pay for it? People pay insurance premiums for a reason, provincial dollars should haven't to pay for those visiting the Island who need services. If you don't pay into the system you should expect services without a fee.

  • Confused
    January 28, 2016 - 09:00

    I and just annoyed at this whole article . I am a volunteer fire fighter and medical 1st responder , and this ambulance service just sickens my stomach as they charge 600.00 as a flat rate but in turn call departments out 24/7 , 7 days a week for assistance for things like assistance carrying out someone because they do not have the man power to do it or the people working their shift can not lift the person , This costing depts. thousands of dollars each year and no way or recouping anything , Perhaps all the fire depts. on the island should ban together and submit bills to EMS for their services

    • Second Opinion
      January 28, 2016 - 11:21

      Here's an idea Confused, if you don't like going to medical calls, don't go. I've been a firefighter and first responder for 15 years and have no problem helping out. It's a source of pride for our fire department and we do it to help our community, not Island EMS. That being said, the province sets the rates for service and Island EMS collects the bill, I'm in now way saying its a perfect system, but don't forget you're doing it for YOUR COMMUNITY, whom you collect fire dues from to pay for equipment. Ive even found over the years that if you ask the paramedics, they'll give you whatever equipment that was used on the call as long as it's the same as theirs. Don't forget, it's for your community.

    • Quiet Observer
      January 28, 2016 - 13:18

      Fire departments should absolutely be billing EMS every time they are called. $600/visit.

    • annoyed
      January 28, 2016 - 16:21

      Island EMS is a non-profit company, no one is making a profit here. Since you're a fire fighter, you should have some idea of what is involved in running an ambulance call.. 600 bucks barely scratches the surface of what it really costs! The trucks are >$200,000 after they are fully stocked and equipped and there are so far ~20 of them + 2 Rapid response vehicles to keep up to date with maintenance, filled with fuel. The defibs in each unit cost as much as a small car. The Paramedics also need to be paid 24/7, and 5/10 times we have to work a lot later than we're supposed to. A lot of us are also vol. fire fighters and happily respond to requests for assistance from Island EMS. It is the fire departments choice whether they want to make themselves available to assist paramedics or not. We don't call because we are too lazy to extricate someone ourselves.

    • Just Sayin
      January 28, 2016 - 17:10

      The ambulance service was taken over by a firm from Nova Scotia about 10 years ago.. What do you mean it is not for profit? Of course it is for profit.

    • annoyed
      January 29, 2016 - 08:09

      Re: Just Sayin You obviously have no idea how astronomically expensive healthcare is.. if someone was to make a profit off of this EMS system, the prices would be triple what they are now. That $600 barely covers what it costs to be constantly buying new medical supplies and expensive medications, new ambulances, replacing equipment, heating the ambulance bases across the island and a bunch of other behind the scenes things you have no idea about. Also some people here don't seem to be realizing that the government subsidizes 75% of the cost.. the fee for island residents for ambulance is $150.. a pretty good deal for what you get when you're having a medical crisis!

    • annoyed
      January 29, 2016 - 08:15

      Re: Just Sayin You obviously have no idea how astronomically expensive healthcare is.. if someone was to make a profit off of this EMS system, the prices would be triple what they are now. That $600 barely covers what it costs to be constantly buying new medical supplies and expensive medications, new ambulances, replacing equipment, heating the ambulance bases across the island and a bunch of other behind the scenes things you have no idea about. Also some people here don't seem to be realizing that the government subsidizes 75% of the cost.. the fee for island residents for ambulance is $150.. a pretty good deal for what you get when you're having a medical crisis!