No more out-of-pocket ambulance fees for Rockford residents

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A Rockford City Council Committee approves changes to how it charges for ambulance service. It’s a change they say will benefit the city and those that need the help.
 
After an evaluation by the National Resource Network, it was recommended the city look into it’s ambulance billing. Now local leaders hope to give Rockford residents some relief in medical bills with no more out-of pocket fees.
 
On Monday, the Finance and Personnel Committee approved changes to ambulance service fees.
The new policy would only charge insurance companies and eliminate costs to Rockford residents.
 
“If they utilize the Rockford Fire Department ambulance to go the hospital and they’re a Rockford resident, they’re only going to pay what the insurance pay and won’t have an out-of-pocket expense,” Rockford Fire Department Chief Derek Bergsten said.
 
Non-residents would still have to pay the outstanding balance. Rockford city officials hope the move will give forest city residents some financial relief in the future.
 
“Between the property tax and the sales tax and utility tax, there’s a lot of revenue generated from residents to pay for city government,” Alderman John Beck said.
 
The change would also increase the transport fee to $1,500. Currently the fee for residents is $600 to $800 and about $1,400 for non-residents.
 
“We’re also going to have a flat fee across the board,” Alderman Beck said. “It’s a higher level than what we were charging before for residents. Hopefully, there’s going to be additional revenue from the insurance companies.”
 
The changes will not affect patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Early projections show the new flat fee will help the city’s bottom line.
 
“They’re anticipating an increase in revenue by this new funding model and that was part of the reason going into it also,” Chief Bergsten said. “Not only to benefit the citizens, but bring in additional revenue to the City of Rockford general fund.”
 
Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten hopes the new fee structure will help any Rockfordians in need.
 
“Every month we get people who give you heart tugging stories about how they’re short on funds and the ambulance ride is expensive, the hospital visit, and now we won’t have to do that,” Bersten said.
 
The changes will be up for vote at the next full city council on Monday, April 29th. 

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