The Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps last month quietly began billing the insurance companies of people who needed ambulance service.
Residents within the ambulance district, which also includes Riverside, will not be billed, according to longtime ambulance corps board member Ron Hintze. Those residents already pay taxes for ambulance service, and officials said third-party insurance billing will help to reduces those taxes.
“We’ve said all along that we’re not going to bill taxpayers,” Mr. Hintze said at Monday’s Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association meeting. But, he added, the system is in its early stages and there might be times when something slips though the cracks and a resident receives a bill.
“If you get a bill, we want to know about it right away so we can take care of it,” Mr. Hintze said.
The corps’ board of directors meets the first Sunday of every month at 7 p.m. at ambulance headquarters on Flanders Road and the public is invited to bring questions or concerns to those meetings.
Former FRNCA president Ron Fisher has recently joined that board of directors as well, so questions can also be directed to him, Mr. Hintze said.
In the past few years, FRNCA held several public meetings about the third-party billing proposal and most people who attended them supported the plan, saying that those who pay ambulance taxes are paying double, because their insurance will cover ambulance costs.
“Most people have insurance. Most cars have auto insurance, so they will be collecting a lot of money from insurance entities, and that’s what they are there for,” said FRNCA president Vince Taldone.
“Another thing, don’t hesitate to call the ambulance,” Mr. Hintze said. “If you need an ambulance, call the ambulance. Don’t worry about a bill or paying. We can work this stuff out.”
Third-party billing in the ambulance district will be a two-year program. After that, according to Mr. Hintze, Southampton Town will assess its effectiveness before deciding whether to continue it.
In Riverhead, the town and the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance adopted a program last spring that does third-party billing for motor vehicle accidents only, with the bills going to the person’s auto insurance carrier.
Flanders Northampton is one of four ambulance districts within Southampton Town. It has the highest tax rate of the four, in part because it includes large amounts of tax-exempt parkland and government property that it the lowest assessed value.