6 years ago, when I got hit by a car while riding my bike, a kind woman sat with me and called an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, I asked to be taken to the hospital I trust. The paramedics on the ambulance jabbed a needle in my arm against my wishes and when I woke up, I was in a hospital I’d never have chosen.
I called the fire department, which handles the ambulances. They said they only take people to the nearest hospital. The fact that the one I wanted was only a few blocks away didn’t matter. They also said I had “lost consciousness.”
The ambulance sent me a bill for $500. I could have taken a cab to the hospital of my choice for less than $20. It never occurred to me to ask the kind woman phoned 911 to call me a cab instead.
Last week, my 93-year-old mother thought she was having a heart attack. She wears an alert call button. She pressed it. The company sent an ambulance. It took her to a hospital that made her wait in the ER for 2 hours before they ran some blood tests and told her it wasn’t a heart attack. They didn’t tell her what might have caused that pain. They did offer to run a bunch of expensive tests, but could not promise to tell her what was wrong. So she decided to leave “against medical advice.” Her ambulance bill was $1000. She doesn’t know if her insurance will cover anything because she left AMA. And, like me, she has a hospital she prefers to the closest one.
I see no advantages to an ambulance over a cab, if you are conscious.