To Uber or Not to Uber? How Much Is an Ambulance Ride

With prices rising on a daily basis and our income not seeing the same steep climb, unforeseen circumstances like sudden medical expenses are a headache for most middle and low-income families.

To make sure you have the funds for possible medical expenses, it is important to know how much is an ambulance ride. Unplanned medical expenses can mean an emergency situation requiring the use of an ambulance. Take a look at these estimates to make sure you have enough money put aside for this situation.

Planning Your Budget

Due to the fact that income is currently not at all in line with the steep rise in monthly expenses, not everyone has the means to afford health insurance. This, unfortunately, means that unexpected medical bills will have to be paid out of pocket, and usually up front.

If that is the case for you, you have to do careful budgeting for medical expenses. How much is an ambulance ride? The answer to this question will obviously differ from country to country and even city to city. When the patient has to pay for the service, it can be ridiculously expensive.

Ambulance Costs in America

In the United States, using the ambulance typically isn’t free. Some cities are able to cover the costs of ambulances through taxes. However, with no insurance and no help from your city, you may be in for a chilling ride once you receive that bill.

The average cost for an ambulance ride usually ranges between $375.00 to $1200.00 depending on the type of emergency and the treatment required. On top of that, the ride is billed by the mile as well, ranging anything from $9.00 to $20.00 per mile.

Many people have complained of receiving bills of over $2500.00 and even bills as high as $18,000.00.

But How Can I Afford That?

Facing a bill that is likely to be more than your monthly income may be daunting. Take a look at these tips that may help you out of this tight spot.

Don’t Ignore It

Whatever you do, do not ignore the bill. It will only lead to more costs and interest. The problem will surely not go away.

Check If It’s Correct

As soon as you receive your bill, check the medical codes to ensure that the medical attention you received is in fact what you are being billed for. If you are unsure, call the ambulance service provider and go through each code with them. Ask them to correct any errors there might be.

Do Your Research

Check whether other ambulance services in your area would have charged you a similar fee. If their fees differ vastly from the company who billed you, you may be able to appeal to the company for a reduction or discount.

There are other discounts as well. You may be able to get 20% off if you pay the bill within a certain timeframe.

Start Paying Immediately

Start paying off your bill immediately, even while you are negotiating. The chances that the bill will be written off completely are next to nothing. Therefore, you should start repaying it in installments right away.

Talk to Your Health Insurance

If you have health insurance, it is important that you check to make sure that they have compensated the ambulance company correctly.

If you have insurance but received a bill, research your options. In some states, it’s illegal for hospitals to demand more money for this service than what is covered by health insurance.

Check All Your Other Insurances

It helps to check all the insurances you might have other than health insurance. Vehicle or life insurance may have an ambulance benefit you didn’t even know about. Be sure to call all of your insurances to make sure you are not missing out on something.

Arrange a Payment Plan

After you have done the above, arrange an affordable payment plan with the ambulance service. They will usually be cooperative, as they have many clients in a similar situation.

Do I Really Need an Ambulance?

Taking the astronomical cost of ambulance rides into account, many people wonder if they can avoid an ambulance ride. The answer depends on your circumstances.


If you’re not in any immediate danger, and you can move freely, it is perfectly fine to call a Lyft, an Uber, or a cab. You can also get someone you trust to drive you to the hospital. For example, pregnant women who are about to go into labor (without any complications) don’t generally need an ambulance.

On the other hand, you should avoid driving if you are unwell or if you’re going into labor.

Emergency Situations

Ambulances are for emergency situations where every minute counts. This includes seizures, choking, stroke symptoms, sharp chest pains, and more. Since ambulances can use sirens and cross speed limits, they can get you to the hospital very quickly.

But some argue that it can be faster to have someone drive you. Even Uber can be quicker if you find a driver who is in your neighborhood. All this may be true, but it ignores an important fact.

Ambulances arrive with a team of medical professionals. They can help keep the patient in a stable condition, and they can administer some drugs or first aid. Taking this into account, it is always better to call an ambulance for emergencies.

Situations Where the Patient Can’t Be Moved

Here is another consideration. Sometimes, people can’t be safely moved after an injury. Call 911 and follow all their instructions. It may be necessary to wait for an ambulance to arrive, with experts who can move the patient without causing damage.

The Takeaway

To make sure that you are prepared for any unforeseen circumstances, it is important to know is the cost of an ambulance ride. Prices may start around $375 and may run up to thousands of dollars depending on distance and type of treatment.

If you think your bill is too high, you can always approach the ambulance service and ask for clarification. Before you start paying the bill, make sure all your insurances have done their bit to contribute to the fees.