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AHS waives ambulance fees for people with no income or address

Posted on August 24, 2023 by admin

By Steffanie Costigan
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

When an emergency is at hand, and an ambulance is needed after the medical emergency has been stabilized, individuals are billed with the fee for that ambulance service.

An Alberta Health Services representative said earlier this month AHS now waives the fee for individuals with no address and no income.

“In cases where an ambulance service fee is incurred and patients are uninsured, reasonably believed to have no fixed address, and collection is not reasonably assured, AHS will waive the fee and absorb the cost,” the representative said.

All Albertans pay the same rate for ground ambulance service, says the AHS. There are two rates – $250 if a patient isn’t transported and $350 if a patient is transported. An additional $200 is charged to patients who are non-residents of Alberta regardless whether the patient is transported or not.

Payment, says AHS, is the responsibility of the patient unless they are covered by private insurance or a government program. Seniors aged 65 and older who are enrolled in the Coverage for Senior’s program don’t get a bill with the province paying the entire cost.

Health Canada pays the user fee for EMS services for First Nations peoples. Albertans are also exempt for payment who receive health benefits through income support, Adult Health Benefits or Alberta Child Health Benefits.

AHS said there are benefits available to low-income Albertans through the Adult Health Benefit. According to Alberta.ca, the adult health benefit is available for low-income households.

“The Alberta Adult Health Benefits program covers health benefits for Albertans in low-income households who are pregnant or have high ongoing prescription drug needs. This health plan includes children who are 18 or 19 years old if they are living at home and attending high school.”

The Alberta Adult Health Benefits program provides coverage for dental care, prescription drugs, eye exams and glasses, essential diabetes supplies, emergency ambulance services, and essential over-the-counter medications.

Individuals eligible for this program must be one of the following are pregnant, have high ongoing prescription drug needs, leaving the income support or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) programs due to excess income from employment, self-employment, or CPP-D benefits.

Eligible applicants must live in Alberta, be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status, meet guidelines, and not be receiving health benefits from other government programs.

AHS offers both ground and air ambulance services and says more than 670,000 ground events occur each year in the province that involve more than 780 ambulance vehicles and 5,600 EMS practitioners providing care.

AHS contracts 11 fixed-wing aircraft to provide 24-hour service with bases in 10 communities. Three contracted providers deliver helicopter ambulance service.

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