More Janesville ambulance bills going unpaid
Basic fees for ambulance service are $500 for a resident and $700 for a nonresident. With the bump in service seen in the past five years, this has meant more money, potentially, for the city’s general fund.
But unpaid bills have been a problem. According to city records, ambulance write-offs increased nearly $306,000 from 2005-09. In fact, such write-offs contributed to 97.7 percent of the city’s total write-offs in 2009 alone, according to Jean Wulf, city clerk-treasurer.
That’s when 2,805 invoices totaling $765,443 had to be written off, she said. Federal law mandated more than $490,000 of that had to be written off.
The federal government determines the amount of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement regardless of the amount billed, Wulf explained. And while Medicare and Medicaid payments didn’t increase, the ambulance fee did in 2009, she said.
In addition, the city had to write off another 638 invoices totaling $274,940 when the collection agency the city contracts with—Associated Collectors in Janesville—exhausted all efforts to collect the money, Wulf said.
“This is significantly higher than 2008 when the collection agency purged 284 invoices totaling $114,220 that were uncollectible,” Wulf wrote in a February memo to city council members.
Nearly 64 percent of ambulance service bills were paid in 2005 compared to just over 62 percent in 2009.
“If you look at the percent of recovery, you’re just seeing it go down steadily a little bit. We’re right at about 60 percent” each year, Wulf said.
The economy, she said, has played a role in less money being collected whether payment came from the federal government, people with health insurance or those who lost their health insurance.
Ambulance revenue sources include payments from Medicare and Medicaid, insurance companies and the patient, Wulf said.