It will cost more to be transported to a hospital in a village of Forest Park ambulance, but insurance companies will pay the extra fees.

The village council voted 5-0 on May 14 to increase ambulance fees for the first time since 2009, with the increased fees taking effect immediately. Village Finance Director Letitia Olmstead estimated fee increase would generate an additional $53,600 per year, helping to fill a deficit of about $1 million in the village budget. 

The charge for each basic life support ambulance transport will increase from $400 to $700; for advanced life support from $1,000 to $1,200; and for advanced life support 2 from $1,200 to $1,400. Basic life support is characterized as interventions that can include oxygen, spinal immobilization, bandaging and more. Advanced level support requires at least one intervention by a paramedic, like cardiac monitoring, IV and medication. Advanced life support 2 includes the administration of at least three separate doses of one more medications by IV push, or manual defibrillation, central venous line, chest decompression and more. 

Remaining unchanged are advanced life support and advanced life support 2 charges for Medicare and Medicaid patients and charges for mileage, oxygen and cardiac monitoring.

In making her recommendation for changes to the village council, Olmsted termed the basic life support rate as “extremely low.”

Tim Gillian, village administrator, said increasing ambulance fees was discussed during a budget workshop in November.

“We wanted to see where we were in comparison to other communities,” he explained, noting that the revised fee schedule put the village “right in line.”

Forest Park contracts with the Schiller Park-based Paramedic Services of Illinois to provide paramedic services. Village ambulances responded to 1,779 calls in 2017 with 1,660 of those calls requiring transportation.

Mayor Anthony Calderone assured Commissioner Tom Mannix that a patient’s insurance company will pay the increases, terming the fees to be “normal and customary.”

In her written recommendation to the village council, Olmstead explained further.

“These recommended rate changes will not adversely affect any patient that would be at a loss because of a higher rate,” she said. “Payment received from Medicare and Medicaid is always considered payment in full. Additionally, payment made on behalf of residents (commercial or otherwise) is always considered payment in full as residents are not balanced billed.

“For non-residents, Paramedic Services follows the scheduling and pricing recommendations of commercial insurance companies. Any charges deemed excessive or not within their fee scheduling are written off. The only portion that non-residents are balanced billed is a co-pay or deductible that the insurance company as recommended.”