TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden which would require health insurance companies to directly pay ambulance costs in a timely manner, regardless of whether or not the ambulance company is under contract with the insurance company was signed into law today by Governor Jon Corzine.
“Often times, the medical care that patients receive on the way to the hospital can play a big part in how well they do once they are able to been seen by a doctor,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, who is a member of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “This legislation will help make sure that the main focus of ambulance service providers is in delivering the care that patients so desperately need.”
Under Senator Madden’s bill, S-329, patients or their family members would be required to sign an assignment of benefits form, which would then turn the insurance payment over to the ambulance company.
Previously, ambulance companies would bill patients, who would then submit the claim to their insurance company. Once the insurance company approved the claim, benefits would be awarded to patients, who were then responsible for paying the ambulance company.
“This new law will work to help cut through the red tape, and allow insurance providers and ambulance companies to deal directly with each other,” said Senator Madden.
Ambulance companies will be required to submit the assignment of benefits form to insurance companies, who will then pay the ambulance companies directly. If an insurance company chooses to ignore a submitted assignment of benefits form and bills a patient, the claim will be considered unpaid, and the charge will accrue late fees, said Senator Madden.
“In some instances, insurance providers actually refuse to reimburse the cost of ambulance services if the company is not under contract or within the network of the insurance provider. When EMS and ambulance squads are funded by taxpayer dollars, a lack of payment can cause a significant financial problem for local municipalities,” Senator Madden said.
“This bill is about providing prompt payment for services rendered, so that ambulance companies can stay in the business of helping to save lives,” said Senator Madden.
This measure received final legislative approval on June 11. It will take effect on January 26, 2008.