A new program implemented at the Dearborn Fire Department will help to recoup as much as $800,000 in costs annually associated with emergency medical runs.
According to the department, Dearborn firefighters went on 11,041 calls in 2012. Of their annual runs, around 8,000 are EMT runs—meaning that the call is medical in nature.
And of those EMT runs, around 2,000 are what is known as “treatment, no transport” runs, which is where a team responds to a call but does not end up taking the person in question to a hospital.
“What we were looking to do was come up with a reimbursement rate for those types of services,” Fire Chief Joseph Murray explained to the Dearborn City Council at a meeting in November.
Costs for TNT runs would be billed at a flat $400 rate, either to an insurance company, or an individual. Not all calls are billable, Murray said, but the cost savings for the department could still be significant.
Every run the department goes on is not without its costs—even if the person or people in question don’t need to, or deny the chance to go to a hospital.
According to Murray, the costs for medical runs aren’t easy to quantify, but are heft.
“You’re talking fuel, supplies, not only time on site, but also report writing, billing agencies,” he explained. “It’s a pretty significant cost.”
The department already had a billing system set up for EMT runs. But up until this cost recovery program was implemented within the past month, Dearborn’s fire department—and in turn, the taxpayers who fund it—were shouldering the costs of TNT runs.
Dearborn joins Taylor, Melvindale, Wayne-Westland, Wyandotte and many other fire departments in beginning to bill for those services, and Murray explained that most insurance companies are now equipped to handle those bills.
“Insurance companies were really the trigger for this,” he said, “once they started reimbursing for those costs.”
As with any billable runs, the Dearborn Fire Department also offers payment options and works with individuals who do not have insurance, or the funds to pay.
Regardless, the department still stands to save.
“It’s one piece of the pie,” Murray said, “and we’re making sure we’re maintaining the same level of service."