News & Resources

Debt collectors help FDNY recover ambulance fees

Jan 31, 2011 Kyle Duncan

When experiencing a medical crisis or trauma, the last thing on a patient's mind is probably how he or she will pay for the care they receive. But ambulance companies don't work for free, and some are employing debt collectors to settle unpaid fees and recoup costs, which total in the millions in some cities. The Fire Department of the City of New York has sold its ambulance fee debt of $50 million to a collection company, reports the Daily News. FDNY ambulances earn approximately $170 million a year in emergency medical service transports, but 25 percent of riders don't pay their fees. "We do have an obligation to taxpayers, especially in these tough fiscal times, to recover as much in fees for services rendered as possible," FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer told the news source. By selling off its debt to a collection agency, FDNY hopes to recoup a portion of the money it would lose otherwise. In 2007, it sold approximately $150 million in debt to an agency for $3.6 million. Currently, the FDNY has a budget deficit of nearly $23 million. In 1996, the FDNY became the primary provider of pre-hospital emergency care in the city and the largest fire department-based EMS in the country.