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Cost of EMSA transport could go up in OKC

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Officials went before city leaders this week, asking to charge more for ambulance services. The plan presented to council would increase the cost of an EMSA transport by $500 over the next two years.

Some on the council are skeptical about that hike. Right now the bill to be transported without insurance is $1,300 dollars.

EMSA leaders went to city council and asked that rate increase to $1,500 next year and $1,800 in 2014.

"A 50 percent rate hike in the next two years is substantial," said Oklahoma City councilman Ed Shadid.

Councilman Shadid says the proposed rate hike unfairly punishes the uninsured while most insurance companies also don't pay the full cost to transport.

"The system is tilted against those that don't have insurance they would be expected to pay the full $1800. Even though insurance companies, like medicare, only pay $600," Shadid says.

"Health care financing is frustrating," said Steve Williamson with EMSA.

Williamson told the council the reimbursement system may not be fair, but it's beyond EMSAs control.

"There is a huge difference in cash and insurance payments and it's why the system isn't sustainable, but it is the fact today," said Williamson.

One compromise could involve a one year rate increase of $200 dollars with a plan to re-evaluate after that.

"We need to study why the costs are going up so quickly and take it one year at a time as opposed to multi-year rate increases," said Shadid.

The council will make their decision on the issue two weeks from now. If people pay for Totalcare, they can avoid paying for transports, but only 80 percent of households in the metro take part.

That leaves 20 percent exposed. That's a significantly higher number than in Tulsa which also uses EMSA.