By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambulance service fee revenue for Shenandoah County should pick up soon after a months-long wait, emergency officials said Friday.
The county now has authorization to receive reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, according to Kenny Monkman, emergency medical services billing technician for the Fire and Rescue Department. The delay came as no surprise to the department.
"We were advised beforehand that the Medicare application was going to take the longest," Monkman said Friday.
As of Aug. 12 the department calculated $941,894 in gross charges, which includes mileage costs and fees for the three different kinds of services, according to information from the agency. That figure continues to increase, Monkman said Friday. More recent information from the third-party company contracted by the department to bill patients was not available Friday.
With authorization, the county should see approximately $511,724 from Medicare and $17,652 in Medicaid reimbursements, according to the Aug. 12 data. The figures represent the balances after subtracting for contractual allowances and other adjustments. Likewise, the department expects to receive $117,068 in revenue from patients covered by private insurance providers as calculated through Aug. 12. As of that time the county had received $31,751 toward that amount, according to county figures.
However the department expects to write-off at least $159,595 of the billable charges totaled through Aug. 12.
Chief Gary Yew in early August advised the county Board of Supervisors the department had since beginning the program received slightly less than $35,000 of the billable charges. Monkman said that amount had increased to approximately $44,000, which is deposited into the county's revenue recovery account. The department at the point when Yew made his report to supervisors had not yet received authorization from Medicare and Medicaid. Department officials expected the delay in authorization when the agency set about implementing the program, Monkman explained.
The department had through Aug. 12 billed for ambulance services provided to 1,479 patients. That number consisted of 827 Medicare patients, 40 for Medicaid and 255 covered by private insurance. The remaining 357 did not have insurance, according to department information and thus would not be responsible for paying the charges through the "compassionate" billing process.
Private insurance providers generally cover 80 percent of ambulance service charges, but the department waives the remaining 20 percent, typically co-payments and deductible fees, for Shenandoah County residents.
As Monkman noted, the county would receive no reimbursement for the ambulance services without the revenue recovery program. The funds collected go to augment fire and rescue services countywide. As Yew explained, the revenue is dispersed depending on the responding agency, whether it's his department, a volunteer squad or a combination therein.
Data from the department referring to gross charges also sheds light on the patients who receive ambulance service. As of early August, an average of 54 percent of the ambulance patients are on Medicare and 2.2 percent receive Medicaid. While 17.4 percent receive medical coverage through private providers, 26.3 percent reported having no insurance.