Plan Deadline Approaching For Frequent Ambulance Riders

Published: Mar 20, 2005




If you have a a chronic ailment or are just one of those people who doesn't like taking chances, take note: The deadline for joining the Sunstar FirstCare Ambulance Membership Plan is fast approaching.
After March 31, no new members will be accepted by the plan, which serves about 10,000 county residents.

Sunstar membership is not an insurance policy.

The plan protects against incurring any out-of-pocket expenses such as insurance deductibles for ambulance rides that are subsequently deemed to be medically necessary, according to Chuck Kearns, Director of the county's Emergency Medical Services department.

Plan members who have health coverage, including Medicare and private insurance, do not have to pay anything extra for a ride to the doctor or hospital as long as the trip is later certified as necessary, Kearns said.

Membership costs $45 a year for individuals and $70 for a family, which the plan defines as those related by blood or marriage who reside in the same household.

The family price has increased just $10 since 1990; during the same period the average cost of an ambulance ride has nearly doubled in Pinellas County to almost $500.

Plan members who do not have any health insurance or Medicare receive a 20 percent reduction on ambulance fees.

There is no limit to the number of ambulance rides covered by the membership plan, Kearns said.

Those who enroll by the deadline are covered through March 31, 2005.

Applications are available on the Internet at www.pinellascounty.org/EMS/default.htm,at the Sunstar building at 12490 Ulmerton Road in Largo, or by calling (727) 582-2008.

David Sommer <