The long-awaited decision by the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) on the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority’s proposal for an ambulance subscription plan has been approved as the Ambulance Membership Program. It became available to Sun Lakes residents on July 1.
The plan was filed with AZDHS for review and approval in October of 2017. The AZDHS had 450 days to act upon the submission, and on May 7 of 2018, determined the application was administratively complete and began the review phase of the process, whereby the AZDHS could request more information or hold public hearings.
The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority (AFMA) received notification on May 23 of this year that the ADHS passed the waiver of hearing process. This allowed AFMA to offer the Ambulance Membership Program starting in July of this year.
The Sun Lakes Splash has covered this plan since its origins and provides a sidebar box with frequently-asked questions with this article. The major issue was that AFMA could no longer write off any outstanding co-pays or deductibles for a patient who needs the ambulance after their primary and secondary insurance payment.
The act of subsidizing ambulance service was started years ago in a very different healthcare and insurance reimbursement environment. The new environment, as it exists, now negatively impacts a district’s ability to maintain their essential life-saving ambulance service.
“We are simply unable to maintain our state-of-the-art ambulance with our highly-trained medical personnel while subsidizing patient insurance co-pays and deductibles,” said Deputy Chief Rob Helie, stressing that “Arizona state law will not allow for tax dollars to be used to operate our ambulance service so, in short, the revenues received from providing this service must cover our operating expenses.”
Chief Helie emphasized that the voluntary ambulance subscription, otherwise known as the Ambulance Membership Program (AMP), with a yearly annual membership of $75.00 (per household), will eliminate the patient’s co-payment or deductible after their insurance company pays. Helie provided an easy example: “Say you have a Medicare supplement with a $250.00 co-payment and you have purchased the $75.00 yearly ambulance membership program. Your total savings would be $175.00. On the other hand, if you were not a member, you would be responsible for payment of any billable deductibles and co-pays.”
Helie again stated that the AMP is strictly voluntary. “We want Sun Lakes residents to understand that it will not affect access to the district’s emergency services, including ambulance transport, if they choose not to join. The AMP is a supplemental insurance policy designed to help with or offset the ‘out-of-pocket’ costs for the patient.”
For Sun Lakes residents to find out about eligibility or insurance questions, please contact AFMA’s contracted billing provider at 1-800-953-9777, and to purchase an ambulance membership, contact the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority administrative offices at 623-544-5400.
For further information, check www.afma.az.gov/amp.