Who Pays For the Ambulance When You Call 911?

If you’ve called 911, you may be wondering who pays for the ambulance. Fortunately, there are a number of options for this. Some health insurance providers, like Medicare and Medi-cal, will cover the cost of emergency transport. However, there are also many private insurance plans. In most cases, the patient or his or her insurer will foot the bill.


If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, you should know that Medicare will sometimes pay for ambulance services when you call 911. The amount of the coverage can range from several hundred dollars to a thousand dollars, depending on the situation. If you have an emergency, ambulances can be the safest way to get to a medical facility. But there are some conditions you need to meet before Medicare will cover the cost.

First, if you need to use an ambulance, you should check the MSN (Medicare Summary Notice). If you receive an MSN that says that Medicare doesn’t cover ambulance service, this could mean that the ambulance company did not properly document the need for the service. Or, they might have filed the paperwork incorrectly. In such cases, submitting the claim again may solve the issue.

In addition to paying for the ambulance ride, Medicare will sometimes cover the flight in an ambulance if you need to get to the hospital immediately. It will also pay for ambulance transportation in helicopters or airplanes, if it is medically necessary.


If you are in an accident and need an ambulance, Medi-cal is a good option for emergency medical care. This program pays for ambulance rides from a state-licensed provider. The out-of-pocket expense is typically minimal, usually around $3 a trip. It’s important to confirm coverage with your insurance company before the ambulance ride so you don’t pay more than you should.

When you call 911, the ambulance company will send the closest ambulance that services your location. Occasionally, you may have to call more than one ambulance provider to find one that services your location. Some providers are not contracted with Medi-cal, so you may be surprised to receive a surprise bill.

When you need an ambulance, Medicare pays 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount. However, if you need more than 80 percent of the ambulance’s cost, you can pay more. Most ambulance companies accept this payment. However, you must meet your annual Medicare deductible first.

Ambulance companies can charge more if they are not in the network of ambulance providers. Most ambulances accept only in-network rates, but they charge a higher price for out-of-network services. Depending on the ambulance company and your insurance company, you may be surprised with a high bill.

Private insurance

If you’re a citizen of California, you’re probably aware that private ambulance companies operate about three out of four ambulances in the state. Meanwhile, government-based organizations provide two out of every three emergency ambulance rides. The good news is that you don’t have to pay full price for your emergency ambulance ride, thanks to the No Surprises Act. If you have private insurance, you can choose from a la carte menu of rates.

The good news is that most insurers cover ambulance rides that are medically necessary. Depending on your policy, “medically necessary” can mean unconsciousness, bleeding heavily, or intense pain. If you’re unsure whether your insurance covers a particular ambulance, call the dispatcher and ask for their network. The ambulance will send the closest ambulance that is part of your insurance network. You can also ask for the ambulance to be sent to a specific hospital, but the dispatcher will usually choose the one that is closest to your location.

If your ambulance bill is out of network, try negotiating and appealing it. The Patient Advocate Foundation has a detailed guide for appealing out-of-network bills. The ambulance company may be willing to reduce the amount you pay, or offer payment plans to make the cost more affordable. If your ambulance bill is too high, you can also contact your state insurance regulator. The attorney general can help you file a complaint.


Dispatchers are professionals who take your call and send out the appropriate emergency personnel. They work shifts and may wear a communications headset while performing their job. They also maintain detailed records of calls and instructions to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Some dispatchers are also trained to offer first aid while on the phone. This means they may provide first aid to you until emergency medical services arrive. They may also provide safety tips for you to follow while you wait for help.

When you call 911, you should always state the type of emergency you have. If you don’t specify, you won’t get the right response. Sometimes, the police department will answer your call and transfer you to a medical dispatch center. Sometimes, an ambulance is not dispatched, but it is still worth calling 911.

The dispatcher will ask important questions and collect important medical information about the caller. They need to know whether the person is conscious and breathing. Then, they will ask more specific questions about the reason for the call. The dispatcher will also give you instructions for delivery before the ambulance arrives.


Many people don’t realize the out-of-network fees charged by ambulance services can be as high as $400. But these bills can be negotiated and even appealed. To find out how to appeal your ambulance bill, visit the Patient Advocate Foundation website. It will provide step-by-step instructions. You can also contact the company or your state’s insurance regulator. The attorney general’s office may also be able to help you.

While some states have passed legislation regulating ambulance prices, many don’t. For example, most states don’t regulate ground ambulance charges and don’t regulate ambulance companies’ response fees. And in many states, ambulance services can’t balance-bill emergency room doctors unless they have a contract with the patient’s health insurance. Despite these laws, ambulance companies don’t always follow these rules. Consequently, people covered by Medicaid and Medicare should be protected from surprise bills.

Disputes over who pays for ambulances can be very expensive. In New Jersey, an ambulance company was charged nearly $2,100 for a 30-minute ambulance ride. The man had never even ridden in the ambulance.

Response times

Several factors affect the time it takes for ambulances to arrive at a location after a 911 call. One is geographic location. If you live in the country, the ambulances may be far away and volunteer rescue squads may not be able to respond quickly. Cities can experience traffic, which also affects the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive at a location. In addition, there may be more ambulances in a city than in a rural area.

The average response time for emergency medical services personnel is seven minutes. This number is higher for rural areas. While the majority of people prefer to receive help from first responders, they are unable to do so for long. For this reason, many people turn to family members and friends to assist when an emergency arises. In these cases, the Until Help Arrives campaign was created to empower laypersons to respond to calls and provide care to victims while ambulances are on the way.

Response times are a factor that impacts the quality of emergency care provided by emergency medical services. The number of ambulances available to respond to a 911 call depends on the severity of the emergency. High-income areas usually have a shorter response time than low-income ones.


If you’re calling 911 and need an ambulance, the costs can add up. A ground ambulance can cost anywhere from $450 to more than $12,000, while an air ambulance can cost up to $25,000 and more. The cost of an ambulance call can be prohibitive, but your insurance may cover some or all of the cost.

The costs for ambulance service vary by state, but most policies cover ambulance transportation if it’s medically necessary. For example, BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama covers ambulance transportation on many policies. Patients may pay $15 to $100 out of pocket, while their insurance may cover up to 50% of the cost. Additionally, some ambulance services may balance bill their patients if they’re unable to pay the entire bill. This practice is illegal in some states, so make sure you know what your plan covers.

The Better Business Bureau received nearly 1,200 complaints about ambulance services over the past three years. About half of them were related to billing. Of those, 46 complained about out-of-network charges. One of the most recent examples involves Roman Barshay, a Brooklyn software developer who fell in a Boston suburb last November.