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East End ambulance service seeks switch to third-party billing

Representatives of the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Service want to propose a third-party billing option to save residents money and offset the service’s annual budget.

Ron Hintze, who is on the service’s board of directors, has been speaking with residents in Flanders, Northampton and Riverside about third-party billing, which would allow residents with health insurance to bill the costs of ambulance service to their insurance companies.

Hintze said the ambulance service responds to about 1,200 calls a year and that residents in the three hamlets pay between $150 and $200 a year for ambulance services as part of their tax bill.

“We pay the highest taxes and with the lowest budget, and we’re the second-busiest ambulance in the town,” said Hintze.

Hintze said third-party insurance billing would offset about half the ambulance service’s budget, which was about $587,000 in 2016, while saving money for residents needing their help.

“If we do 1,200 calls a year, we would be able to bill about 900 of those calls, because some people aren’t going to have insurance, at $600 per call, which is the median,” he said of the price. “Some might be higher, some might be lower, but that . . . would reduce the tax burden within the ambulance district on the taxpayers.”

Hintze, who said the board seemed “receptive” when he spoke to them about the plan at a work session last April, plans to follow up with them later this month. Board members had questions about the billing setup and the ambulance service’s vision for the new system, Hintze added.

Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier said he had questions about Hintze’s proposal but would be interested in learning more. “If there’s a way to be fairer to the taxpayers in the area, I’d be open to it,” he said.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he hadn’t taken a position on the proposal, but had heard the ambulance service was struggling to meet expenses.

“In this case, if they’re going to maintain the quality of the ambulance, I’m willing to listen to what they have to say,” Schneiderman said.


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