Pay now or later

Lack of EMS enrollees costing ambulance service almost $2 million

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By Tim Farley, News Editor – Samaritan EMS officials recommended to the Yukon City Council Tuesday that each residential water customer be charged a small monthly fee that would allow the ambulance service to reduce its contractual rates.

Jason Likens, Samaritan’s chief operations officer, said Yukon residents who elected not to participate in an open enrollment last year collectively owe almost $2 million for uncovered ambulance service expenses.

With the ambulance service contract nearing its renewal with the city, Likens suggested Yukon officials automatically enroll all residential water customers into the membership program. Citizens could choose to opt out of the program. The monthly cost would be less than $4.

However, Likens said the automatic enrollment would protect all citizens and their families from uncovered, unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

Samaritan offered a membership program when it won the contract from Yukon in March. However, only 718 residents became members, which is a key factor in the $2 million that has not been paid for ambulance services, Likens said.

City council members did not respond to the recommendation, but promised the idea would be considered when Samaritan’s contract renewal is considered this spring.

During the same meeting, Samaritan also gave the council good news about its response times during 2017. The average response time was 6 minutes, 45 seconds. Samaritan EMS is contractually obligated to respond to all emergency calls within the city limits in 11 minutes or less 90 percent of the time. The company’s overall compliance for 2017 was 96.8 percent, Likens said.

Samaritan began operating in Yukon March 5 with two ambulances in the city at all times. During certain times of the year and times of the day, the company deploys a third ambulance to assure timely response and transport of patients, Likens wrote in his report to the council.

The report shows July and August were Samaritan’s busiest months with 318 calls in July and 294 in August. The slowest month was in June with 215 calls.

According to Likens, Samaritan responded to 2,692 calls in 2017 with 85 percent of those resulting in a transport to a medical facility. The top five reasons for a call were sickness, falls, transport or palliative care, traffic accident and breathing problems.