The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a significant raise in ambulance fees, according to the Mountain Xpress [“County Raises Fees for Ambulance Service,” Feb. 14]. And in a microcosm, there’s what’s wrong with health care in the U.S.
Sure, there are many good reasons for the raise, but it shows a shortsighted lack of heart. I get it; they want to collect more from Medicare and insurance companies. It brings Buncombe’s fees in line with the rest of the state’s.
But it forgets that the Affordable Care Act has been crippled, leaving more people without health insurance (disclaimer: like me). So if I get into an accident or fall down and can’t get up, I have to pay rates that even the insurance companies won’t pay 100 percent of. I have to lie there thinking, “OK, do I have enough money to cover this ambulance ride, or should I just try to crawl to the hospital?”
In that situation, finances should not be part of the calculations. This raise is only going to hurt the poor and unfortunate. Obviously, the commissioners have lost sight of that. I would rather pay more in taxes and have ambulance rides free if I need it. Of course, I would also rather pay more in taxes and have universal health care, so you know where I’m coming from.
One last thing, EMTs are chronically underpaid. I bet that not a dime of this raise goes to them. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, but apparently charging more to those who can least afford it always works. This is an election year, and we’re paying attention.
— Mark H. Bloom