2008-03-22 / News

Basil Fire District considering EMS billing

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE - The Basil Joint Fire District, serving the Village of Baltimore and Liberty Township, is considering a revenue recovery program for EMS transports.

Informational sessions for residents were held March 6 and 15 at the firestation in Baltimore. Revenue recovery means that insurance companies and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will billed when a covered person is transported to a hospital. Medicare, Medicaid and most health insurance plans include coverage for emergency transportation to a hospital.

Revenue recovery is increasingly being adopted by firedepartments throughout the country. In FairfieldCounty, the City of Lancaster, Village of Amanda and Greenfield Township currently bill for EMS transports. Violet Township is looking at it. In Licking County, Heath, Newark and Hebron charge insurance companies for transports.

"It's like a grant out there for us to get," Basil Fire Chief Rob Cooley explained. "We want to get the money that's been in your policy for years." The district estimates that revenue recovery will bring in another $130,000 to $150,000 a year. That represents a 10 to 12 percent increase in the district's $1.3 million annual budget.

While the additional funds won't be enough to eliminate the need for more operating funds in the future, it should push back the need for an additional levy, Cooley said. The district currently has a paid three-person crew at each station 24/7. It relies on volunteers to provide manpower for fires and other emergencies.

Med3000, a national company with several officesin Ohio, will handle billing. All bills will be directed to third-party payers. Fire district residents will not receive a bill, even if they don't have any health insurance. Residents may receive a request for information letter from Med3000 asking for insurance information. The district will also accept whatever payment is made by the insurance plan as payment in full. District residents will NOT be billed for any difference.

The program works differently for non-residents. Initially, their insurance plan will be billed directly. If the bill isn't paid, the non-resident will be directly billed. Federal Medicare regulations require that the district make a "reasonable attempt" to collect from non-residents. However, that effort will NOT include referring any unpaid bills to collection agencies.

Both Cooley and Assistant Chief Kasey Farmer emphasize that no one should delay call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance while they are looking for an insurance card. Insurance cards are NOT needed to get emergency medical treatment. The department's first priority is to provide the needed care as quickly as possible.

Cooley expects the firedistrict board will make a decision on whether to proceed with revenue recovery at its April meeting. That meeting is set for 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 17 at the firestation in Baltimore. For more information, call Cooley or Farmer at (740) 862-8596.

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