Ambulance users now must pay for uses

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2000

DANIEL TYLER GOODEN / L’Observateur / April 7, 2000

CONVENT – Citizens requiring the services of Acadian Ambulance are now responsible for any fees not paid by their insurance company.

The change in the contract, made at the beginning of the year, was brought on by insurance companies suing Acadian for discrimination.

In St. James Parish, if the insurance company only covered part of anAcadian bill the parish would cover the rest. If the user had no insurance, theparish would pay the whole bill. The insurance companies claimed that due toAcadian’s contract structure they were being penalized, since no one would require insurance for the service, said Parish President Dale Hymel Jr.

The court favored with the insurance plaintiffs.

The decision led to a slight reduction in utilization by the hospitals, which was expected, said Vice-President of Operations, Stephen Kuiper. Acadian nowhandles about 540 patients a day, compared to last year’s 560 patient average. Medical and insurance companies, as well as HMOs, are making surethat the use of an ambulance is definitely needed, added Kuiper.

St. James Parish has had a contract with Acadian Ambulance since the early1980s. The parish annually sets aside $500,000 for covering any cost notcovered by a patient’s insurance.

Hymel said this money now acts as membership fee and will be used to give a 20 percent discount to all Acadian users, though they will still have to pay any amount not covered by their insurance or the discount.

Headquartered in Lafayette, Acadian Ambulance services about one-third of Louisiana, consisting of 31 parishes, said Kuiper.

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