Charlotte Talks: MEDIC Bill Controversy Shines Light On High Ambulance Costs

Oct 3, 2019

Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019

Credit MEDIC

After community blowback, a plan to turn MEDIC patients over to Mecklenburg County's tax collector for payment of overdue ambulance bills has been delayed. But why is it so expensive to use an ambulance in the first place?

Critics of the proposed bill collection said it would force those who can't afford ambulance rides to second-guess calling MEDIC.

"We don't think about money when we call the fire or the police department. Why should we when we are sick," Tera Long told county commissioners this week.

Ambulance services are one of the biggest sources of surprise medical bills. "Charges range widely from zero to thousands of dollars, depending on billing practices," Kaiser Health News reported in 2017.

But conversations in Washington and elsewhere about reining such expenses have not included ambulances.

What drives the sticker shock many patients experience?


Christopher Garmon, assistant professor of health administration, University of Missouri Kansas City (@cjrhgarmon)

Loren Adler, associate director, USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy (@LorenAdler)