Medicaid Made Ambulances Cheaper Than Uber. Guess What Happened?


I find this to be a very peculiar turn of events. But that may be because I’m terrified of ambulances. Living in NYC, I see people getting carted away in them daily and it looks very unpleasant.


And yet, ambulance dispatches for minor injuries like abrasions, burns and muscle sprains rose by 37% in New York City after ACA provided health insurance to previously uninsured people.

Just because you can get an ambulance for $3 under your Medicaid plan doesn’t mean you should call one for all your minor ailments. People are so weird!

It’s gotten to be so commonplace, there’s even an acronym for it – PNR (see above).


Per Medical Xpress:

When ambulances (at $3) are cheaper than an Uber, researchers found a massive spike in ambulance calls for minor ailments.

The exact opposite of previous research which found that when Uber shows up in a city, the usage of ambulance services dropped off.

Medicaid patients, in particular, have incredibly low out-of-pocket responsibility for ambulances. The most an ambulance ride covered under Medicaid costs the patient is three dollars. If there’s a low-cost alternative to Uber to get the hospital, you’re going to take it.

However, dispatches for more severe injuries (such as chest pain, compound fractures, and unconsciousness) remained unchanged.

In response to these unnecessary calls for ambulances, a handful of major U.S. cities are implementing 911 nurse triage call centers to address non-emergency calls and redirect those patients away from ambulances.

NYC—and most U.S. cities—don’t do that yet, but as dispatches for scrapes and sprains tie up emergency responders, that may soon change.


Bottom Line.

I find this all so so incomprehensible. I would be so embarrassed (mortified really) to call an ambulance for anything less than imminent demise. Where do you all stand on this?

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