Many EMS services across Texas, including municipal, hospital-based, and private, offer potential patients in their services area the opportunity to participate in subscription programs.
EMS subscription programs allow households and businesses to pay an up-front, established fee to offset any future emergency medical transport expenses in the future. In this blog, we will discuss the pros and cons of operating a subscription program within your EMS department.
Pros of maintaining an EMS subscription program
- Additional revenue source – Subscription programs can generate additional revenue for EMS departments because not everyone who subscribes will ultimately be transported. The EMS agency will receive funds from individuals they will not render a service to during the subscription period. However, the lost revenue from transports provided to subscribers must be considered to truly determine the profitability of the program.
- Cost coverage for citizens – No one plans for an emergency. When someone is presented with the need for transport by ambulance, so many things can be uncertain. As a subscriber, the patient can have confidence that, when they are transported by the agency they subscribe to, they won’t come home to unexpected medical bills. Many programs request that subscribers provide any insurance information they may have, which can help to offset the lost revenue on the transport.
Cons of maintaining an EMS subscription program
- Increased administrative work – Maintaining the subscription list and supplying it to your EMS billing partner, whether that is someone within your organization or a third-party vendor, requires diligence, accuracy, and communication, especially if your subscription program has continuous open enrollment. Consider making your subscription plan an annual plan with a designated enrollment period.
- Potentially frustrated subscribers – Subscribers may not understand that their subscription to your program does not cover emergency transports from other ground or air providers. It can happen that a call for ground ambulance emergency transportation comes in from a subscriber at a time when your agency cannot transport them, for a variety of reasons. That subscriber may become frustrated when they learn that they are responsible for that bill.
- Legal considerations – While there are no federal or state laws that prohibit the formation of subscription programs (See this article from EMS1.com), there are laws and requirements that must be considered when forming a subscription program. The best path is to ensure you partner with an experienced legal representative to ensure the proper formation of your program.
- Added complexity for billing – If your agency does its own billing, managing a subscription list, in addition to conducting billing operations can be a complex and time-consuming process. Partnering with a third-party vendor for EMS billing can make your life easier. EMERGICON partners with several agencies that operate subscription plans and have the staff necessary to execute this complex situation in a straightforward manner.
EMERGICON is committed to reducing the burden of life-saving care so that EMS agencies can have more time and energy to serve their communities. Have questions about subscription programs? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.