The Lake Ozark Fire Protection District has taken action to verify a June 2000 decision by the board of directors not to charge residents of the district for ambulance services that are not covered by a third-party payer such as an insurance company.
Village of Four Seasons City Clerk Tom Laird told the board of trustees Wednesday, June 12, that the department will begin including notices to residents when they receive a bill for ambulance services. The clerk and trustees have received calls from residents over the years confused about the billing process, and Laird has conducted a letter writing campaign to encourage the LOFPD to clarify its policy.
LOFPD Chief Mark Amsinger explained that bonafide residents of the district will not have to pay any out-of-pocket ambulance service fees.
"Our philosophy is that we feel they are paying for those services through the ambulance tax they pay," he said.
Notices are now being included in ambulance service statements explaining the policy, but reminding them that proof of residency must be provided to the LOFPD within 30 days after receiving the bills. A valid real estate or personal property tax receipt from the current tax year is required for proof.
The district's billing is outsourced, and residents receiving service are billed by the company not the LOFPD. If the LOFPD receives a check for more than what is required, the check is returned. If a resident does not have insurance, the LOFPD receives nothing.
Everyone who receives ambulance services is billed, Amsinger explained, because the LOFPD cannot be selective as to who is or who is not billed.
The policy covers only residents of the district, and does not include non-residents who will be billed for services provided by the LOFPD. A friend or family member who is not a resident of the district will not be covered by the policy.
The Lake Ozark Fire Protection District was formed by voter approval in November 2000 to improve ambulance service to Lake Ozark and Horseshoe Bend. Voters authorized a tax levy not to exceed 30 cents per $100 assessed valuation to fund the new service.
In June of that year, the fire board approved an ordinance providing for the exemption from service fees and to establish a collection process. The board re-adopts the ordinance each year with adjustments for ambulance fees.
Patients are charged a base rate of $680 per call and a mileage rage of $17 per mile. The LOFPD can bill third party payers such as insurance companies including liability insurance carriers.
"We receive enough through the tax levy to provide good service and to cover our costs," Amsinger explained.