We were very pleased to see that Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina was in good health and spirits this week after collapsing at a road race Wednesday in Washington. We also were glad that, for the most part, people were able to put political considerations aside and wish him well during his health scare.
Some of those people also inquired politely about the ambulance ride Tillis got to the hospital from the side of the road that morning. How much, they asked, would that trip cost someone who wasn’t covered by insurance?
It’s a good question. We asked Gregory Gravelding, public information officer with MEDIC of Mecklenburg County.
The answer: For a medical emergency like the one Tillis experienced, the trip to the hospital would cost $921, including the services of the paramedics on board, plus $22 per mile traveled. So unless the incident occurs right next to a hospital, you could expect to pay at least $1,000.
For most of us, that ride would be covered by insurance, so long as we don’t direct the ambulance driver to a facility farther than the closest hospital. Tillis, of course, is covered. Most of the 1,300 members of Congress and their staff get their insurance through gold-level program plans on the Washington, D.C., exchange, according to reports.
That’s right – Congress is on Obamacare. It’s one of the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.
But unlike millions of Americans, members of Congress can easily get new coverage if Obamacare is repealed and replaced by the American Health Care Act.
For those who can’t, that ambulance ride becomes a very different thing. That $1,000-plus would be a significant financial and emotional burden – and that doesn’t include the probability of another big bill from the hospital, even for a short stay like the one Tillis thankfully had.
The senator didn’t have to worry about any of that Wednesday. Neither would the members of this editorial board. But we hope that as he considers a replacement for Obamacare, he thinks of the millions of Americans, including his constituents, who would feel the effects of a health scare long after a simple ride to the hospital.