JACKSON (CBS13) — No one ever wants to ride in an ambulance. In Amador and Calaveras Counties, the American Legion Post 108 runs an ambulance service and sells ambulance tickets for $100 at various stores throughout the counties. When Mike Girard’s 90-year-old mother tried to use her ticket last year after two ambulance rides, she still ended up charged $6,498.
“And I said here. I got my ticket. I shouldn’t have to pay this,” Girard recalls telling the American Legion. “And they said, ‘no it doesn’t work like that’”
CBS13 went undercover to a drug store selling the tickets to see what they’d tell us.
“Basically, it’s like insurance,” one clerk said.
Another clerk told our producer it, “obviously makes it so if you ever need to use an ambulance that they just don’t charge you for it, if you have the ticket.”
And when another clerk came to the counter, our undercover producer had this exchange.
Undercover Producer: “They don’t charge you at all?
Clerk 2: No. I don’t think so
Clerk 1: Not for the ambulance ride
The American Legion’s Alan McNany says in 2014, the ambulance program saved people $420,000 in ambulance rides. He says if the program worked the way these clerks described, the American Legion would be broke.
“It would put us out of business,” he said.
He admits it may be time to refresh the store clerks, because he says these tickets are only meant to cover your co-pay or deductible for the ambulance ride which can run up to $700. He says if your medical plan doesn’t have ambulance coverage, the American Legion will discount the bill 50%.
Mike’s mom doesn’t have ambulance coverage, but we discovered she did not receive that 50% discount. After we uncovered the confusion surrounding the sale of these tickets, The American Legion discounted Mike’s mom’s bill from nearly $6,500 to $340. Mike doesn’t think his mom should have to pay anything.
“They ought to be responsible for what they’re selling,” he said.