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January 24. 2013 10:42PM

Manchester ambulance service rates go up about 50 percent

MANCHESTER - The city's designated emergency ambulance company, American Medical Response, has significantly increased its rates, prompting fresh complaints about large bills for trips to the hospital.



Starting on Jan. 1, the company hiked its rates about 50 percent, charging $2,445 for a standard trip to the hospital. The previous rate had been $1,600. The company levies additional charges for medical services, as well as a mileage fee, which was hiked to $51 per mile, from $34.37, according to the Manchester Fire Department. The rate for ambulance trips that require more intensive care was raised to $3,260 from $2,300.

"They've raised their rates, which has resulted in an increase in complaints from the public, and it takes a lot of time for us to explain what's going on," Fire Chief James Burkush said.

AMR officials have said that it is forced to raise the rates it charges insurance companies to defray the costs of providing emergency service to those only covered by Medicare or Medicaid, as well as those who do not have insurance and cannot afford to pay.

The amount AMR is allowed to charge is restricted by its contract with the city; the company can only charge patients an out-of-pocket rate of 35 percent above the Medicare compensation rate per trip, about $600.

But the company is permitted to charge insurance companies much more, starting at $2,400 as of Jan. 1.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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