My wife and I just recently returned from spending a couple of months in Phoenix.
While down there, I unfortunately had a medical emergency while driving on one of the freeways. I was able to pull over. Not knowing what was happening, my wife had to call 911.
The nearest fire station responded and arrived within 10 minutes; shortly after that, a local police officer arrived.
The firefighters started first responder treatment. After another 10 minutes, an ambulance arrived. It was decided that I be taken to the nearest hospital for further evaluation.
The hospital was only about five kilometres from where the emergency happened. After being seen by an emergency room doctor, it was decided that I be admitted for further observation and tests.
My wife contacted our insurance provider and explained what was happening. We also gave this information to the hospital in Phoenix. After signing a few forms we were told not to worry as the insurance and hospital had all the necessary information.
After an overnight stay and a number of procedures requested by the doctors, I was released the following afternoon. At this point we were not asked for any payment nor did I get a copy of the costs associated with my stay.
Three weeks later, I received an invoice from Phoenix Emergency Services for the ambulance ride to the hospital. The last time we called for an ambulance in Kelowna, the fee was less than $100. I expected somewhat higher fee down there due to their medical system, but when I opened the invoice, I was shocked.
The fee for the ambulance was $930 for less than five kilometres and about 15 minutes.
I was asked for my insurance information; if there was not, I was going to be on the hook for that amount.
I know their medical system is expensive, but this is absolutely ridiculous. No wonder their system is out of hand. I have not seen the invoice for my hospital stay, but I would venture to guess the amount would likely be between $12,000 and $20,000 for a little over 24 hours.
It was a beautiful private hospital room with full cable TV, etc. Not sure if all the tests that were requested were necessary, but the fact I had insurance meant they could charge as much as they could get away with - or due to their malpractice liability, they make sure that they have themselves covered.
If anyone is contemplating going down south even for just a day trip and they are in good health, as I was, you better have proper insurance or you could face a devastating financial hardship.