While municipalities previously offered ambulance services for free to taxpayers, ambulance trips have become a billable health care item, according to a New York Times report in 2013. The rates vary by location, but the report mentions an example of a woman charged $1,772.42 for a 15-minute ride.
Medicare has implemented a fixed price range for ambulance services, claims The New York Times. As of 2011, the permissible rate a company can charge a Medicare beneficiary ranged from $289 to $481. While some private medical insurance plans covers the cost of ambulance services, many don't. Because many persons using ambulances either lack insurance coverage or have coverage that does not pay for ambulance service, ambulance companies recover only 30 or 40 percent of the billed costs. This low payment rate causes ambulance companies to charge those with insurance a higher rate for use.