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Art Caplan | The High Cost Of Ambulances

Massachusetts Woman Brings National Attention To The High Price Of Ambulances

Officer Shot Tacoma
The high cost of ambulance rides are making people second guess calling them
Ted S. Warren/AP
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Art Caplan | The High Cost Of Ambulances

In June, A 45-year-old woman suffered a severe injury after getting her leg stuck between an Orange line train and the platform. Boston Globe reporter Maria Cramer witnessed the event and tweeted that the woman begged bystanders not to call an ambulance because she could not afford the high cost. Her story has now become a symbol for many of the issues plaguing the country’s healthcare system.

“She’s in agony and weeping. Just as upsetting she begged no one call an ambulance. ‘It’s $3000,’ she wailed. ‘I can’t afford that,’ Cramer tweeted.

The tweet has been retweeted nearly 9,500 times and liked by 17,838 people. New York Times wrote an editorial about the tweet with the headline “This Tweet Captures the State of Health Care in America.” The piece references a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation that says 43 percent of people with insurance struggle to afford their deductibles and 27 percent say that they don’t pursue medical care because of the high cost.

Boston EMS Chief Jim Hooley also told the Boston Globe that the price of ambulances in Boston average between $1,200 and $1,900.

Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center Art Caplan told Boston Public Radio Wednesday that the costs of ambulances in the country of gotten out of control.

“Ambulance services, which are often private companies, they cost thousands and thousands of dollars for rides,” Caplan said.

Caplan estimates that only one percent or less of insurances companies cover ambulance prices. “We have a health insurance system that is basically built around hospital costs, not getting there, not preventing you from getting there,” he said.

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