by Mark Reagan
A San Antonio Fire Department EMS unit is seen at the Mission's Firefighter Appreciation Night in July. Photo from SAFD's Facebook page.
If the San Antonio City Council approves an ambulance transport fee increase, the base cost of a ride to the hospital will increase $620 in just two years.
During a budget presentation Tuesday, San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood proposed increasing the fee to $950 from $800 in an effort to better balance with other Texas cities, his words.
That balancing act would produce $1.7 million in increased revenue, Hood told the City Council.
In 2013, City Council approved a fire department proposal to increase the base cost of an ambulance ride to $800 from $530, a move that Hood told council members in 2013 would result in $3.1 million in estimated revenue. And if this fee increase is approved, that estimated revenue jumps to nearly $5 million.
On Tuesday, Hood said the fire department collects 49 percent of each bill for a trip to the hospital. When it comes to insurance, Hood said 49 percent of bills are paid by commercial insurance, Medicare pays for about 34 percent of them, Medicaid covers 13 percent and the rest is self pay or uninsured. Lastly, Hood said the fire department recoups 71 percent of costs from ambulance rides. The Department does write off some of the costs it is unable to recoup through a collection agency that it has a contract with, Hood said.
Austin’s ambulance transport fee is $990, Houston’s is $1,000 and Dallas and Corpus Christi are at $800 per ride to the hospital, according to Hood's presentation.
However, the fee increase discussed was a baseline fee. San Antonio also charges an additional $12 per mile.