Do you have to pay when you call an ambulance in the States?

Q: Do you have to pay when you call an ambulance in the States?

A: Yes, of course. What you pay depends on where you live, the type of insurance you have, how far the ambulance travels, whether the closest hospital or the ambulance company are considered “in network” for your insurance company, etc. There are lots of variables, including the reason you need to go to the hospital! For example, if you are hurt at work, your employer will get the bill instead of you.

Some years ago, my mother fell down a flight of stairs, so we quickly called the ambulance. Her insurance covered the base fee, but she had to pay the mileage. It was only about 5 or 6 miles to the hospital from her home, and just her portion of the bill was $1,700. I recently read an article about a man who was billed $2,500 for his son’s ambulance ride, which was only 2 miles long.

Generally, Americans try to avoid going in an ambulance if they can, because we know it costs too much. Many people will refuse to go in the ambulance after a car accident if they think they can drive themselves, and I know some people who have taken an Uber instead of an ambulance.

In the case of a car accident, you still get the bill. If you or the other party have car insurance, then the insurance company should reimburse you, but this sometimes takes a very long time. Also, most car insurance policies and many medical insurance policies have a deductible, which is an amount you are responsible for before they start to pay, so you MAY have to pay for the ambulance yourself. An example would be if you had a $5,000 deductible and your ambulance bill was $3,000 – you would need to pay it yourself, plus $2,000 of your medical bills before your insurance would pay anything.  

When I was hit I was lucky, because my own car insurance paid for the medical bills. Then they had to sue the other insurance company (the one covering the woman who hit me) to get the money back from them. This is also something that will vary by state (different laws) and by the kind of insurance policy you have. There are different rules about personal injury coverage and amounts from state to state. 

I knew a girl who was hit by trees during a wind storm – the trees crashed down on her truck, trapping her inside. She was critically injured and it took about a year for her to recover. In her case, the city was responsible, as the trees were diseased and had already been marked for removal, but then they forgot to remove them. But even though the city was the responsible party, my friend was billed for everything – the ambulance, the cost of the firefighters who cut her out of her truck, the towing and storage of her truck, surgeries, the hospital bills, etc. Of course she did not have to pay those bills in the end, but she was the one who received them, so while she was in the hospital, her credit was completely destroyed, as it appeared that she was ignoring/refusing to pay bills. Once she recovered, she was unable to qualify for a loan for a new vehicle, because her credit had been so damaged by the tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills she received for her treatment.


Q: 米国では救急車を呼んだらお金を払わなくてはいけないの?

A: もちろん払わなくてはいけないわ。何について払うかは、住んでいるところ、加入保険の種類、救急車の走行距離、最寄りの病院や救急車の会社が保険会社のネットワークに参加しているかどうか等によるの。病院に行く必要性も含めてたくさんの要素があるの!もちろん、職場で怪我をしたら、雇用者があなたの代わりに費用を払うわ。