Area residents owing a local ambulance service for a ride may have to start paying up.
Winnebago Area Ambulance has more than $30,000 in outstanding bills and has hired American Accounts and Advisors to begin collecting.
“It’s a huge, outstanding amount,” says ambulance Captain Cari Jenkins. “We need to be able to pay our bills.”
Nationally, rural ambulance services struggle to cover operating costs due to inadequate Medicare, Medicaid and insurance reimbursements. And, often they eat the charges for uninsured residents.
“The ambulance is largely self-funded through their charges and donations received,” says City Administrator Jacob Skluzacek.
Last year, the budget for Winnebago Area Ambulance was $150,550 and it is expected to increase by $2,000 for 2020.
Jenkins says EMS crews cover the areas of Amboy, Delavan, Huntley and parts of Blue Earth and Martin continues.
“We operate 24/7,” says Jenkins. “We’re a volunteer crew and our people get paid very little.”
Under the agreement, American Accounts and Advisors will keep 20 percent of any overdue bills collected. If the city seeks legal action, the collections company will retain 40 percent.