Ambulance response times and the deployment of resources have improved on the Island thanks to an additional ambulance and a new computerized dispatch system.
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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.
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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.
P.E.I. ambulance fees:
Within P.E.I. Emergency Non-urgent
P.E.I. seniors 65+ $0 $150
P.E.I. residents $150 $150
Non-residents $600 $600
Ambulance transport to out-of-province hospital:
Ground ambulance to N.S. or N.B.
P.E.I. resident, physician referred $0 $0
P.E.I. resident, non-referral $800 $550
Non-resident $1,080.50 $691.95
P.E.I. residents, referred $0
Non-resident Canadians $12,000
(Source: Health P.E.I.)