Rising fuel costs drive up ambulance rates

A ride in an ambulance could cost you about $900 but it's getting pricier. Rising fuel costs are driving up ambulance rates at TLC.

"We're watching it, trying not to increase our rates too much, but enough to stay in business," said Director of Operations Lon Fricano. "The medical transport industry has really no control, we can't control our rates, we can't take cost cutting measures, we can't carpool to save on fuel. We are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place."

And the patients riding in the back will be forced to foot the bigger bill.

Topping off the TLC ambulance tank with 9 gallons of diesel fills it a quarter of the way, and costs $40. In the past few weeks, TLC says fuel costs for the company have gone up 30%.

With crews constantly on the road, responding to about 200 calls a day in the Syracuse area, the driving adds up to pain at the pump. And there aren't many ways to save on fuel, ambulances often have to keep running when outdoors to maintain cabin temperatures for both patients and medications.

We're 24/7," said Fricano. "We have no ability to curtail it, it's an essential service, people need to get to the hospital."

TLC says lower medicaid reimbursement rates are also contributing to what they have to charge customers. Medicaid and medicare rates are set by the state and federal governments, and TLC can't change them. It says that means the regular paying customers have to pay even more to make up the loss, since the company can't charge all customers equally.

You can keep track of gas prices by clicking here.