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Cost of ambulance rides are rising

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - Would you pay $36 for a single aspirin?  You might have to if you are taking an ambulance ride.

No one wants to have to ride in an ambulance, but we're sure happy to see them when we need them.

Ambulance companies say the cost is so high because they need to be ready at a moment's notice, and that's not cheap.

Bell Ambulance responds to close to 300 calls a day, and saving lives isn’t cheap.

“I would be willing to guess that no two of them are the exact same charge,” said Chris Anderson from Bell.

The company says the ability to respond to any emergency at any moment of the day is what drives up costs.

“To have staff and equipment available within minutes, 24/7, that's the biggest cost,” said Anderson.

“Things are not going to get cheaper as we go on,” said Sandy Kulik, Village Administrator for Hales Corners.

The village just raised their fees for ambulance service. “Before we put anybody in the truck, the cost to maintain the truck, have them ready to provide the service, the cost of the fire station and all those things is roughly $500 before anyone gets in it,” said Kulik.

That's just to get the truck out the door, they also charge $19 a mile, and things like an IV add to the bill.

But even with these costs, Kulik says the village is not making money on an ambulance call.

Their calls jumped 20 percent from 2016 to 2017, and they only increased charges 2 percent.

It's why simple things like an aspirin are so expensive.

“It's like a pair of gloves,” said Anderson, “while the gloves themselves don't cost that much, it's really the people and the readiness that we're paying for and we have to put that cost somewhere.”

Probably the most frustrating part for people is that there is no way to tell what it will cost you until you use it.

Ambulance services don't have to report their prices to the state so there's no comprehensive list.

Municipalities set their own rates, so that changes depending on where you are.

And people get charged different rates depending on their insurance.

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