Does Insurance Cover Ambulance Rides?
Ambulance rides are expensive. Insurance often covers them, but not always—and not always fully.
Both car and health insurance help pay for ambulance rides that are medically necessary.
This usually means you need medical attention right away, like after a car accident or when you call 911 from home. Or you might need medical supervision while going from your doctor’s office to the hospital. Even then, your insurance probably won’t cover the full cost of your ambulance ride.
How much of a medically necessary ambulance ride will your insurance policy cover? You’ll learn all about that here. You’ll also learn about:
- The types of insurance coverage that pay for ambulance rides
- How Medicare and Medicaid cover ambulances
- When insurance doesn’t cover ambulance costs
- How much ambulance rides cost with and without insurance
Which Types of Insurance Cover Ambulance Rides?
If you have car insurance, it’ll probably pay at least some of the cost of an ambulance ride that’s medically necessary.
And if you have health insurance, it’ll help cover ambulance rides in the same kinds of emergency – and even some non-emergency – situations.
Does car insurance cover ambulance rides?
Yes, it does. For auto insurance to pay for an ambulance ride, you need the right kind of coverage. Or the driver who caused the accident that’s sending you to the hospital needs the right kind of coverage:
- If the other driver caused the accident and has car insurance, file against their bodily injury liability coverage.
- If the other driver caused the accident and doesn’t have car insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance, file against your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage – if you have it. Use your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in hit-and-run situations, too.
- If you live in a no-fault state, use your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or medical payments– also called MedPay or just med pay– You might have medical payments car insurance coverage even if you don’t live in no-fault state.
Does health insurance cover ambulance rides in general?
Health insurance usually helps pay for ambulance rides if they’re medically necessary.
You often pay some out-of-pocket costs for them, though. That isn’t always the case for car insurance coverage of medical expenses.
Given that, you’ll typically want to use your car insurance to pay for an ambulance ride, if possible. Only turn to your health insurance after you’ve exhausted your auto coverage.
Some health insurance providers offer supplemental coverage that can help you pay for ambulance rides. Look for ambulance coverage or even accident coverage when shopping for this type of optional plan. Especially if you have a chronic health condition that may require lots of ambulance rides.
Does Medicare cover ambulance rides?
Yes, Medicare covers ambulance rides that are medically necessary. To benefit from this coverage, though, you need Medicare Part B.
Medicare Part B won’t just cover ambulance rides to a hospital. It’ll also cover ambulance rides to critical access hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.
According to medicare.gov, Medicare Part B also covers non-emergency ambulance rides in some situations. But your doctor needs to write an order stating they’re medically necessary.
Does Medicaid cover ambulance rides?
Medicaid covers ambulance rides, too, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Specifically, Medicaid covers “emergency ambulance services when provided by providers licensed by the state.”
Like Medicare, Medicaid also covers “non-emergency ambulance services with a statement by a doctor that the service is required.”
When Doesn’t Insurance Cover Ambulance Rides?
Insurance usually won’t cover ambulance rides in these situations:
- Your car is inoperable
- You don’t have a car at all
In other words, if you’re injured in an accident, don’t expect your car insurance coverage to pay for an ambulance ride to the hospital simply because the crash left your vehicle undriveable.
For a car insurance policy to cover an ambulance ride, your injury needs to be a serious one that requires immediate medical attention.
If you have a minor injury and you call an ambulance to take you to the hospital because your vehicle won’t drive or you don’t have a vehicle, your insurance probably won’t pay any of the bill.
Medicaid is one exception to all the above. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “Medicaid may give you a ride if you do not have a car that works or do not have a driver’s license. You may also be able to get a ride if you have a physical or mental disability or are unable to travel or wait for a ride alone.”
Which Insurance Companies Cover Ambulance Rides?
Almost all health and car insurance companies will cover ambulance rides tied to an emergency or a medical necessity.
Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, and TRICARE are a few examples of insurers that specify on their websites that they cover ambulance rides in these and other situations.
Some insurers sell supplemental coverage that helps you pay the amount your auto or health plan doesn’t cover. United Healthcare offers supplemental accident coverage for its employer-sponsored health plans, for instance.
How Much Does an Ambulance Ride Cost Without Insurance?
An ambulance ride can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000 or more if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance won’t cover the trip.
What you pay for an ambulance ride without insurance depends on a few factors, including:
- Where you live
- The ambulance company
- The services you receive while in the ambulance
- How far the ambulance drives you
Note: some cities provide free ambulance rides to residents. Other cities operate subscription programs that keeps ambulance fees and charges to a minimum.
How Much Does an Ambulance Ride Cost with Insurance?
What you pay for an ambulance ride with insurance depends on several factors.
For example, if you get health insurance from an employer or from the marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, you’ll probably have to deal with out-of-pocket costs after you call an ambulance.
Some health plans charge a copayment of $10 to $100 or more for ambulance rides. Other plans charge coinsurance of 10 percent to 50 percent for them.
You may need to pay toward your health insurance plan’s deductible before this kind of coverage kicks in, too.
If you get health insurance coverage from Medicare, you’ll pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for your ambulance ride. You’ll also have to pay toward your Part B deductible.
Most state Medicaid programs don’t charge copays for ambulance rides. In fact, only these four states charge copays in this situation, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:
Those copays shouldn’t break the bank, thankfully. The most expensive is $3 per trip.
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