MDA proposes discounts on ambulance debts

Members of the public owe Magen David Adom some NIS 300 million for emergency ambulance services.

Magen David Adom ambulances 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Magen David Adom ambulances 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Magen David Adom has been working with the four health funds and the Health Ministry for some time to reach an agreement that will reduce the financial burden on members of the public who have used emergency ambulance services, MDA said Tuesday.
It disclosed that debtors for such services will get significant discounts on the full bill, which reaches NIS 300 million.
Half of this amount was charged for interest, linkage and collection costs. The proposal is now waiting for approval by the ministry and the insurers.
Many think that when they call an ambulance or others call for them in an emergency, they need not pay for the service.
But although it is a nonprofit organization, it is not allowed by the government to go into deficit. The Knesset Public Complaints Committee has demanded that debtors pay up to half of the interest, linkage and costs of collection due to their debts.
As a result of the committee demand, MDA launched a campaign to arrange back payments for ambulance services.
The health funds will pay the premium of the debt for their members, and the debtors will cover from their pockets up to 50 percent of the remaining costs, MDA proposed.
Debts go back as far as 2003 or longer. MDA hired collection agencies and lawyers to collect the debts up to 2009.
But MDA argued that large numbers of debtors were not located. Many of the debt notices were sent to ambulance users only a short time before the seven-year statute of limitations took effect, the committee was told.
Committee chairman MK David Azoulay (Shas) said residents who needed transportation to hospitals should not have to be involved in payment, and the health funds and insurance companies (when accidents were involved) should handle it.
He said some of the collection agencies acted “very aggressively” and that those who did should not be allowed to take part in tenders to select them in the future.
MDA director-general Eli Bin said his organization would do its utmost to reduce the problems and issue a tender for a supplier who would treat the public humanely and respectfully. He conceded that some of the problems were caused by MDA, “but residents also have responsibility.”
Aggressive collection companies will be punished, he added.
Debts will be divided into three types – residents whose health funds must reimburse them for the whole cost (if they were hospitalized); those entitled to a partial reimbursement following hospital treatment without hospitalization; and those who were not insured and not hospitalized and thus not entitled to any reimbursement.