Ambulance service in British Columbia has roots dating back to the early 1900s. Emergency Medical Services were provided by a wide range of commercial and municipal operators, some functioning from funeral homes, others partially subsidized by municipalities, some based with volunteer fire departments and others existing on paid subscriptions from the public..
R. G. Foulkes, a physician and hospital administrator, developed the Health Security for British Columbians report for the Minister of Health. The key recommendation resulting from this report was that the Province of British Columbia assumes responsibility for all privately and municipally operated ambulance services in the province.
Following the release of the Foulkes report, the Health Emergency Act (HEA) was proclaimed, establishing the Emergency Health Services Commission (EHSC) as an agent of government. Through the Act, the EHSC was endowed with the legislated mandate to ensure the provision of high quality and consistent levels of pre-hospital emergency medical services throughout the province. Thus, the new provincial BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) was born.
Dr. Peter Ransford, a retired pediatric physician, and Mr. Carson Smith, the owner of the Metropolitan Ambulance Service of Vancouver, became the driving force behind the new provincial BC Ambulance Service (BCAS).
While BC Ambulance Service fees are not an insured benefit under the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) or the Canada Health Act, fees are heavily subsidized for persons with a valid BC Care Card who are covered by MSP (known as MSP Beneficiaries). Fees for non-MSP Beneficiaries represent the unsubsidized cost of providing services.
As of October 1, 2007, the following legislative fees became effective. For a 911 call, when the BC Ambulance Service is requested to a residence or workplace, but transportation is not required or is refused, a flat fee of $50.00 will be charged for either ground or air transportation. When there is a MSP beneficiary 911 BC ambulance request and the patient is transported, there is a flat fee of $80.00 for either ground or air transportation. For a MSP Beneficiary BC ambulance transportation of a patient between hospitals, there is no fee charged. If it a transfer of a MSP Beneficiary of a patient between a facility (care-home) and hospital there is a $80.00 flat fee for either ground or air transportation. Non-MSP Beneficiaries requesting any of the above transportation will be charged a flat fee of $530.00 for ground service, $2,746 per hour for a helicopter and $7.00 per statute mile for an airplane.
MSP Premium Assistance and Income Assistance Clients are exempt from ambulance fees. The Department of Veteran Affairs and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada also cover some ambulance fees for their clients.
A small number of ambulance fees can be remised by BCAS. Remission of ambulance bills is enabled through the Financial Administration Act Health Emergency Act Remission Regulation (the Regulation).
For further information go to the BCAS website.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.