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Are you paying for EMSA? Tulsa woman warns people to make informed decision

Posted at 2:44 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 19:29:21-04

TULSA, Okla. — Many area folks now take it for granted -- they're used to paying an extra $5.45 a month on their city utility bill to cover EMSA transports if anyone in their family needs one.

Families have until the end of this month to opt-in, or opt-out of the program -- and 79-year-old Marie Farnsworth says to make sure you know what EMSAcare covers before you make your decision.

After 10 hours of surgery for her back, Farnsworth says her doctor required her to be transported by ambulance to a nursing facility for several days of physical therapy to help her heal.

"It was a safer way to transport me, even though it was not an emergency, it was a necessity," Farnsworth says.

Farnsworth says she thought that meant Medicare would pay for the non-emergency ambulance ride. After several months though, Medicare didn't pay, and she received a $357 bill from EMSA.

"I was surprised to see the bill," she says.

Farnsworth says she believed at least the EMSA bill would be taken care of because she pays $5.45 a month through her Tulsa utility bill for the EMSAcare program.

So she was frustrated to find out that wouldn't pay either, since her insurance coverage didn't pay.

"I don't want to pay the bill because it was a necessary thing," Farnsworth told 2 News Oklahoma

EMSA says that the program pays any out-of-pocket costs, such as deductible and co-pays, for emergency transports after it collects from your insurance company.

Non-emergency transports are covered too, but only if your primary insurance pays any portion of the charges.

If insurance doesn't pay, EMSAcare will provide a discount for the non-emergency transport.

A non-emergency transport is a medical transfer that does not have a local hospital emergency room as the final destination.

Those terms, Farnsworth says, caught her up in a fairly expensive catch-22.

"It's just not fair," she says.

The 2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers are checking with Medicare to find out why Farnsworth's ambulance transport wasn't paid for, since her doctor declared it a necessity.

Meanwhile, Farnsworth says it's important to know what insurance and programs like EMSAcare cover and don't cover when making decisions about your family's coverage.

If you have questions about whether you have opted into the program through your utility bill, contact the City of Tulsa's Customer Care Center by calling 311.

Remember, you can change your enrollment during the open enrollment period each August.

Residents of most Tulsa suburbs, except Broken Arrow, an be covered by EMSAcare as well.

Broken Arrow has its own program, so residents need to contact the city hall.

For more information on frequently asked questions about EMSAcare, including what communities are covered, and what to do if you live in an apartment complex click here.

Contact the Problem Solvers:

  • 918-748-1502
  • problemsolvers@kjrh.com

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