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Prince William starts charging for EMS service

Tuesday - 7/5/2011, 12:25pm  ET

Neal Augenstein,

WASHINGTON -- The days of free ambulance service in Prince William County are gone.

The county now bills insurance companies for emergency services, but is vowing county residents will not be charged. The new fee went into effect July 1.

Citing the county's growth and the strain growth puts on the emergency system, Prince William County joins most local jurisdictions in seeking reimbursement from patients' insurance companies.

On its website, the county says "any remaining co-payment or deductible, after the insurance company is billed, will not be charged to the county resident."

The county says it will not bill patients who don't have insurance.

Non-residents will be responsible for co-payments required from their insurance company.

In fiscal year 2010, Prince William Fire and Rescue responded to 55,123 EMS incidents -- 16, 610 patients were transported to the hospital.

The county describes its change in billing approach as "compassionate."

"The new economic reality requires us to evaluate every possible option for stabilizing revenue while considering the amount of tax burden placed on our citizens."

The insurance companies will be charged $400 for basic life support transports and $500 to $700 for advanced life support emergencies. Companies also will be charged a per-mile charge of $10.

The fees are expected to generate $3.1 million in fiscal 2012.

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