GAO Report to Congress Finds that Transports of Medicare Beneficiaries Have Increased
October 11, 2012
Also finds that provider costs and Medicare margins vary widely
On October 1, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) transmitted to Congress a report on 2010 ground ambulance providers’ costs for furnishing medical transports, the relationship between 2010 Medicare payments and ground ambulance providers’ costs, and Medicare beneficiaries’ use of ground ambulance transports in 2010.
To obtain data for the report, GAO surveyed ambulance providers that billed Medicare in 2003 and in 2010, were operational in 2012, and did not share costs with non-ambulance services or air ambulance services. Fire- and hospital-based EMS providers were not included in the survey. 294 surveys were sent electronically to a random sample from a population of approximately 2,900 ambulance providers that met the sample criteria. GAO received 153 completed surveys including 70 from urban providers, 57 from rural providers, and 26 from super-rural providers.
The median cost per transport for providers in the sample was $429, ranging from $224 to $2,204 per transport. GAO found that the median difference between Medicare reimbursement payments-per-transport and costs-per-transport was +2 percent with “add-on” payments (supplemental temporary payment increases initially authorized by Congress in 2004) and -1 percent without such payments. GAO also found that ambulance transports for all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in the nation increased by 33 percent from 2004 to 2010 with the largest growth occurring in super-rural areas.
Click here to download a copy of the report, Ambulance Providers: Costs and Medicare Margins Varied Widely; Transports of Beneficiaries Have Increased, or you can find it at www.gao.gov.