Private vs. Public Ambulance Service: Differences, Pros, and Cons

Whether it’s an emergency or non-emergency situation, sometimes, you can’t avoid a trip to a medical facility. You must contact an ambulance service to assist you in these situations. So, should you call a public or private ambulance service?

Discover the differences between public and private ambulance services and their pros and cons.

Private Ambulance Services

Private ambulances are owned and managed by private organizations. Since individuals own them, their features are more flexible. The prices are higher, but they’re usually much more convenient than public ambulance services.

One thing, however, about private ambulances is that you’ll have to handle the cost of booking and services provided yourself. Although your health insurance plan might cover the costs, you’ll still have to pay part of it out of pocket.

Pros of a Private Ambulance Service

  • Readily available and accessible: Most times, public ambulance services are only available for emergencies. Private ambulances are highly useful in cases where it’s not an emergency, but you need an ambulance for adequate comfort and care while in transit. 
  • No restrictions to location or hospitals: Private emergency vehicle services are your only option if you want to receive treatment from a hospital outside the service area of a public ambulance service. They allow you to choose the medical facility you prefer, even if it’s out of town.
  • Private ambulances are more accommodating: Private ambulance services are more likely to accommodate your specific needs than public ambulance services. They’ll provide you with facilities and professionals like EMTs or paramedics who can accompany you and give you the assistance you need while en route to the hospital.
  • Provision of ambulance service during gatherings and events: Some organizations require ambulances to be on standby during events like sports festivals or concerts. In these cases, public ambulances may be unable to provide the needed services. However, private ambulances are very flexible, and you can schedule their services for such events.
  • Convenience and comfort: Generally, private ambulances are more convenient and comfortable than public ambulances. In a private ambulance, you’ll have access to the best facility and equipment to make your trip to the hospital comfortable. You can also schedule these trips for when you need them. 

Cons of a Private Ambulance Service

  • High cost of service: The cost of private ambulance services is higher, and you’ll have to pay for them yourself. Also, some private ambulances charge per mile and increase your bill based on distance.

Public Ambulance Services

Public ambulances usually operate under the laws of the state. They’re provided and funded by the government, and in some states, they’re partly financed by taxes. 

They often assist in medical emergencies within a specified jurisdiction. This means public ambulance services hardly ever operate outside of their specified area.

There are some limitations to the services public ambulances provide. So, despite their cheap costs, you should request a private ambulance service if you want specific care options during transit.

Pros of Public Ambulance Services

  • Lower cost: Most of the fees required by public ambulance services are handled by the state, leaving you with only a token or nothing to pay.
  • Timely services: Public ambulances are provided at specific locations throughout every state. If you need urgent medical assistance, a public ambulance may reach you faster than a private ambulance.

Cons of Public Ambulance Services

  • Restriction to a particular area: Public ambulances serve specific geographic regions and can only transport patients to the nearest hospitals. They typically don’t allow you to choose which hospital or healthcare facility you want to go to.  
  • Rigid rules and specifications: Public ambulances obey the regulations of the state. So, it’s usually difficult for them to bend the rules to your favor or change the specifics of their operations.

What Are Emergency and Non-emergency Cases?

Ambulance services offer transportation to patients in a state of emergency. They also cater to people whose needs aren’t urgent but still need a ride to a medical facility. This means that patients without emergencies can have their ambulance trips scheduled.

Examples of Emergency Cases

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Falling from a height
  • Burns and fire accidents
  • Drowning
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Severe allergic reaction 
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Poisoning by chemicals or toxins
  • Dislocation or bone injuries
  • Asthma attacks
  • Sudden collapse
  • Severe bleeding
  • Severe head injuries
  • Difficulty in breathing or choking

Generally, any condition that puts the patient in a critical state is an emergency.

Examples of Non-emergency Cases

  • Doctor appointments
  • Wound dressings
  • Slight abdominal discomfort
  • Mild fever and headache
  • Body pains
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Mild cuts or bruises
  • Post-surgical checkups 

What Are the Differences Between a Private and Public Ambulance Service?

The most common difference between public and private ambulance services is in convenience and costs. Private ambulance services offer more comfort than public ambulance services and are more expensive.

While a public ambulance service operates within a specific area, a private ambulance is not restricted to one location. Public ambulance services are primarily available for emergency cases, while you can schedule private ambulance services for non-emergency trips to the hospital.

Cost of Private Ambulances

Private ambulances offer services ranging from transportation, nurse, and emergency personnel provision, oxygenation, complex medical care, etc., en route to the hospital.

After every trip, a private ambulance company will provide you with a bill that details the services you received and the cost. On average, the total cost of a trip can range from $400 – $1200 or more depending on whether you have insurance, how many miles you travel, whether you need basic or advanced life support, etc.

Elite Ambulance Services

Ambulances aren’t just for emergencies. And you may not have access to a public ambulance service if it’s not an emergency.

At Elite Ambulance, we offer emergency and non-emergency transportation to medical facilities. We’ve emerged as one of the best ambulance service providers in Chicago. So, you can rest assured that you’d receive elite care from us at affordable rates.

If you’re in Illinois or Indiana, don’t hesitate to call Elite Ambulance whether it’s an emergency or not!

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