Sometimes, a Good Samaritan turns out to be anything but. That’s how Delores Cantz feels about an episode in March, when the 82-year-old slipped and fell while dancing at a party in Warminster. Cantz said that after the fall she got up and walked to a side room, where, to her surprise, a crew from the nonprofit Warminster Volunteer Ambulance Corps was waiting to evaluate her and take her to a local hospital. She refused what she thought was an unneeded emergency-room visit. The result was a surprising $500 bill from the ambulance company. That’s more than Medicare would allow for an actual transport to the hospital.
Unexpected ambulance bills are just one of many financial pitfalls for the elderly on fixed incomes, which means an unexpected bill can be a hardship. In Cantz’s case, paying that $500 bill would eat up nearly half of a monthly Social Security check, which is all she lives on.
Cantz might have been better off financially if she hadn’t turned down the trip to the hospital. Then her Medicare Advantage plan likely would have paid part of the ambulance bill, plus hospital charges, an example of how financial incentives can steer people toward choices that cause higher overall spending in the health-care system.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer