|Date:||February 02, 2017|
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) —If you need an ambulance, it can cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Now one Okaloosa County commissioner wants to make it more affordable.
The least amount of money an ambulance ride will cost you in Okaloosa County is about $800. Under County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel's plan it would cost you about $50.
The plan, which would be voluntary for all county residents, would use everyone's yearly payments to cover the costs of the rides for the people who need it, like an insurance plan.
Commissioner Ketchel came up with the idea after speaking with locals about the current payment method. It turns out most insurance doesn't cover an ambulance ride to the hospital.
"It would build an insurance pool over time and you may not need an ambulance ride for a long time, but when you do, it is available for free," Commissioner Ketchel said.
She believes the coverage for the whole family will help local people like Ramona Reynolds stay out of debt after a serious illness or accident.
Ramona agrees with Ketchel.
"Fifty dollars is a lot more affordable than $800, so it's only $50 and you don't have anything to lose, so I think it is a great idea," Reynolds said.
The program would help the county's bottom line, too, according to County Administrator John Hofstad.
"Percentage of collection is way down for medical transport. You are lucky if you can collect 50 percent of what is billed," Hofstad said.
The county doesn't have the hard numbers, but believes the smaller yearly payments could help the county break even.
Hofstad believes the program could be in front of the commissioners for an up or down vote by this summer.
The first Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners meeting about 'ambulance insurance' will take place on February 21st.
We checked with other Northwest Florida ambulance services. A ride to the hospital will cost you about $750 in Escambia County and between $475 and $900 in Walton County, depending on whether or not you live in the county full time.