NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The average allowable (in-network) amount for advanced life support (ALS) emergency ambulance ground transportation (not including mileage charges) has increased by 56% over three years, from $486 in 2017 to $758 in 2020. This was part of a general increase in the costs of emergency ground ambulance transportation for ALS and basic life support (BLS) over the course of of this period, including increases in average billed charges and average amounts allowed for privately insured patients.1,2,3 These are some of the findings of FAIR Health’s new white paper, Ground Ambulance Services in the United States: A Study of Private Healthcare Claims.
Charges for ALS emergency land ambulance services increased from an average of $1,042 in 2017 to $1,277 in 2020, an increase of 22.6%. The average fee for BLS emergency land ambulance services increased by 17.5% from $800 in 2017 to $940 in 2020. The average amount allowed for the same services increased by 39.9% , rising from $373 to $522 over the same period.
Among other findings of the report:
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Among patients aged 19 to 35, mental health issues were the most common diagnosis associated with an emergency land ambulance during the 2016-2020 period.
Throughout the 2016-2020 period, ALS services accounted for a higher percentage of emergency land ambulance claim lines4 than BLS services. For example, in 2020, 51.5% of emergency land ambulance claim lines were associated with ALS, compared to 48.5% associated with BLS.
People aged 65 and over were consistently the largest age group associated with emergency land ambulance services, although their share of the distribution fell from 37.7% in 2016 to 34% in 2020.
During 2016-2020, women made up a greater share of emergency land ambulance claim lines than men in all but two age groups; men had more claim lines in the 0-18 and 51-64 age groups.
During 2016-2020, the top three reasons patients were transported by emergency land ambulance were (from most common to least common) general signs and symptoms, general signs and symptoms involving the circulatory system and respiratory, and signs and symptoms involving cognition.
In 2020, COVID-19 entered the ALS Emergency Land Ambulance Associated Diagnosis Ranking at #15, and entered the BLS Emergency Land Ambulance Transport Ranking at #10.
In 2019 and 2020, the five states with the highest emergency land ambulance usage as a percentage of all medical claim lines in that state were all in the northeast and south, and the five states with the lowest usage were in the Midwest and West. According to previously published FAIR Health air ambulance data, this was the opposite of the geographic distribution of fixed-wing air ambulance use in 2019 and 2020, in which the top five most used states were in the Midwest. and the West and the five states with the lowest usage were in the northeast and south.