GLEN ELLYN – In order to offset the costs of providing ambulance services, the village of Glen Ellyn recently approved increasing fees for non-residents and adding new fee categories for assistance that does not require hospital transport.
In Fiscal Year 2012-13, the village spent $1,055,372 on emergency medical services, according to village records. $774,544 was reimbursed through ambulance fees Glen Ellyn collected.
The new fee structure, approved unanimously by the Village Board Nov. 25, will increase non-resident fees by $103 to $1,200 or by $219 to $1,400, depending on the level of advanced life support needed. The non-resident fee for basic life support services and all residential fees will remain the same.
Two additional fee categories will be added for "Treat/No Transport" and "Citizen Assist" services.
The Treat/No Transport category applies to calls where medical service is given, but patients are not transported to a hospital. This could include instances where a paramedic provides insulin to a diabetic patient, and even though the person declines hospital care, the ambulance still must go to the hospital to restock its supplies, Assistant Village Manager Al Stonitsch said.
Citizen Assist calls typically involve helping an elderly person who has fallen at home or in a senior living facility. In these instances, no medicine or diagnostic equipment is used by paramedics, Stonitsch said.
These non-transport requests make up about a quarter of calls received by emergency management services in the village, according to village records.
Because they do not involve as many expense, the fees for these categories will be lower than what is charged for services that require patient transport, Stonitsch said.
"Agencies are very sensitive in how they set these rates, as you don't want to set them so high that you can all the sudden have the unintended consequence of discouraging the actual 911 call itself from patients who may become accustomed or know of this fee being so exorbitant, they don't have insurance and they don't bother calling 911," he said.
The new fee structure will go into effect June 15, 2014.
Beginning in June 2015, fees will be increased annually by the Consumer Price Index or 2 percent, whichever is lower, according to village records. The rate structure also will be reviewed by village staff every five years or more.
While village staff proposed including a three-strike rule that would allow patients to use Citizen Assist services three times before being charged, trustees ultimately decided to omit the rule.
That decision stemmed from uncertainty about who would pay the fees for calls made to senior care facilities and whether it would be the facility itself or the resident, because trustees did not want to encourage facilities to rely on emergency medical services from the village.
The board agreed to recommend that staff examine developing a policy that would prevent facilities from abusing paramedic assistance as a way to avoid hiring more employees to provide services.
"I really would like to see us come back and take a look at a comprehensive abuse policy," Trustee Tim Elliott said.
Another future consideration includes introducing fees for technical rescues by the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company. These rescues could include vehicle extrications, which are typically covered under vehicle insurance policies.
Treat/No Transport: $100 for residents, $150 for non-residents
Citizen Assist: $50 for residents, $100 for non-residents
Expected annual fee revenues
Treat/No Transport: $15,000 to $20,000
Citizen Assist: Less than $8,000