A researcher with Harvard Medical School is advocating that individuals, unless it is an extreme emergency, not call an ambulance, both as a means of saving money as well as ensuring that paramedics and emergency medical technicians are available for actual life-or-death situations.
Instead, the researcher says, those individuals should use Uber or Lyft or some other ride-sharing service to get to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance.
About 30% of ambulance trips are for non-emergency situations, according to a published report. And the cost of ambulance services is not cheap. Individuals who took a ride in an ambulance spent more than $14 billion in 2011. In many cases, ambulance rides are not covered by insurance. And while those debts have become assets for collection agencies to try and recover and debt buyers to purchase, maybe it’s money that does not need to be spent, says Anupam Jena, a doctor and researcher at Harvard Medical School.
Both Uber and Lyft offer specialized services to individuals and companies that need extra care, including rides to hospitals. Freeing up ambulances for actual emergencies is an important side effect of using ride-sharing services. One study estimated that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has lowered ambulance response times by 19%.
Using a ride-sharing service can save an individual thousands of dollars, ensure they choose the facility they are taken to (rather than an ambulance, which is restricted to going to the nearest hospital), and ensure that important resources are not diverted away from true emergencies.