MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Every year, the city of Midland meets to discuss the write off on uncollectible medical service expenses. City council voted in favor of medical debt forgiveness for the fiscal year which would allow emergency medical bills that were owed to be written off.
In Midland, taxpayers pay for the city's EMS up front. This includes the ambulance transport to the hospital that costs $400, other level work such as IV treatment is $432, or if you have a heart attack or stroke that requires medication, it can cost $700.
"Our rates are not as expensive in the region or across the country," said Assistant Chief Chip Balzer with the Midland Fire and Rescue. "Council has kept it reasonable just to recover the cost of doing business. It can be pricey to some."
To avoid these costs, Midland has a community health paramedic program. This allows frequent patients who dial 9-1-1 to have free services given to them. But the patients are selected by referrals through doctors.
"That will limit the number of ambulance calls we need to go make for those people," said Balzer. "Because those are typically the ones that don't pay anyway. A lot of times those people don't need to go to the hospital in the first place, and they certainly don't need to go by ambulance, but we certainly don't have a mechanism for refusing them service."
Those who don't pay for the emergency services may not land behind bars, however they could face civil repercussion.
"If it's turned over to a collection agency, it's going to hurt your credit rating tremendously," said Mickey Cargile of Cargile Investment Management. "There's that possibility they sue you and are able to garnish your wages to some extent."