Patient Billing Information Center
Tri-Community Ambulance Service, Inc. is a 100% volunteer organization that proudly serves the residents of the Bergholz, Pekin, Sanborn and Saint Johnsburg fire districts!
Tri-Community serves across the towns of Cambria, Lewiston, Wheatfield and the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. We are considered an "unaffiliated organization", meaning we do NOT receive taxpayer support from any of the jurisdictions we serve. Instead of receiving support from taxpayers through your property taxes, we receive the majority of our funding from patient billing for services rendered. To help fund our operations and advancements, we also receive donations and host fundraisers!
Tri-Community is a New York State Paramedic level service. We are the primary ambulance service for the above listed fire companies, and are routinely called upon for mutual aid assistance for areas that need additional resources (multiple ambulance incidents or Advanced Life Support services). Tri-Community also proudly assists neighboring companies should their ambulance be unavailable at the time of need through mutual aid requests.
The hot topic as of late remains ambulance billing. According to an article posted on the New York Daily News website on May 19, 2016, a statement of I was billed over $2,000 for a 4.5 mile trip; where a rideshare program would have charged $14.00 was made. There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding medical costs and billing both for hospital and pre-hospital services.
What the article fails to explain are two main points. First, specialized equipment. Unlike a rideshare program, an ambulance operating within the State of New York must maintain a minimum level of equipment at all times to be considered in-service. The minimum level of equipment includes things like the patient gurney, immobilization equipment, bleeding control equipment, medications, IV supplies, and much more! Unfortunately, the cost of this equipment and medications continues to rise annually; and we do not get these medications or equipment for free.
The second point is specialized training and personnel. Unlike a rideshare program, an ambulance responds with personnel that have taken state sanctioned EMS courses at a local college or university; and maintain these certifications with annual training requirements. If you encounter an emergency, your ambulance crew is trained to respond and handle your illness or injury. During the transport, our EMS crews will be able to help stabilize your injury or illness and provide BLS or ALS care throughout the transport to the hospital. This part is critical when you or a loved one are having an emergency. Most would agree, you would want to have the properly trained personnel there at your side during the emergency.
Additionally, unlike private vehicle transport or other fee services; an ambulance is staffed and ready to handle any type of patient condition. Should a patient condition worsen enroute to the hospital, we are able to intervene, where other types of transportation would be unprepared for such changes in patient condition.
For pre-hospital EMS services, the costs of operations continues to rise much higher than many other industries overhead costs. In addition to specialized equipment, minimum level of equipment, medications and medical supplies; additional costs incurred are fuel, maintenance, vehicle purchase costs, mortgage for operations buildings, office supplies, and insurance costs, just to name a few. All of these costs rise each year, and we remain 100% volunteer and unaffiliated from any local tax rolls!
Tri-Community's primary and most important objective remains prompt, courteous and local EMS services. Tri-Community believes in remaining local to help drive down response times compared to other available services and their operations centers and staging plans. Since we are 100% volunteer, we can charge less than other companies in the area as our overhead is lower. While a bill is still generated, it is lower than services within Western New York and directly helps keep our operations going!
I received a bill....how do I pay?
If you were a patient with Tri-Community, you will receive a bill from our third-party medical billing company; MEDEX Billing, Inc. If you have health insurance; you will want to communicate with them to ensure they have a copy of the bill, or promptly send in the bill to your health insurance.
If this bill is resulting from a motor vehicle accident; please make sure you route this bill to YOUR personal automobile insurer, regardless of liability or fault in the accident. New York is considered a no-fault state, therefore your personal auto insurance will pay. You will want to ensure you have advised your insurer you sought medical treatment, and will want to complete your no fault benefits ("PIP application") timely. Failure to do so may result in a coverage disclaimer from your carrier. If you advised us or the hospital of your personal health insurance plan, please contact MEDEX Billing, Inc. with your auto insurance company information (company, policy number, date of loss, and claim number).
You will want to consult with your medical or auto insurer for your benefit specifics. Your carrier will be able to inform you of any deductibles or co-pays associated with an ambulance bill. Once your health insurance pays their portion, if there is any residual amount still pending; the statement received from MEDEX Billing, Inc. will show how and where to remit your payment to.
Where does the money go?
Tri-Community remains 100% volunteer and is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The proceeds earned from medical billing remain within our company to be reinvested into our organization and operations. Tri-Community personnel and leadership are volunteer; and we do not report to share holders. We simply are a group of concerned citizens that want to ensure prompt, professional and local emergency services in your time of need!
Tri-Community is proud of our equipment upgrades over the past several years. We have upgraded our heart monitor/EKG's from our LP12 to LP15's on all four (4) of our response vehicles. These units are capable of 12-lead EKG's to help guide us in deciding the proper transport destination for an ill party. Tri-Community in 2016 replaced our aging Ambulance 330 with our current Ambulance 330; to ensure our budget was not being used on costly repairs associated with a higher mileage ambulance. We monitor vehicle conditions regularly and make informed decisions on fleet replacement plans accordingly. Our goal is to ensure a fleet that is ready to respond 365 days each year with minimal downtime. We have also placed into service our new patient stretcher and patient load systems into the 3 ambulances. These systems are capable of loading patients who are 700 pounds with reduced risk of a patient fall and crew member injury.
These advances, in addition to routine medication and small equipment replacements, helps keep Tri-Community modern and "cutting edge" with EMS services for you, our neighbors!