Charleston County Council plans to raise EMS service fees

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Members of the Charleston County Council will hear public comment on a request for an increase in user fees for emergency response services to try to meet the costs of aid .

Department of Emergency Medical Services chief David Abrams recommended and requested each increase to the finance committee in a detailed report.

In the report, Abrams said the price increases are necessary to meet rising costs. The report cites that the cost of operating EMS continues to rise. It says current fees were last updated in 2009, while Medicare rates are adjusted annually. In their request for a rate increase, the staff also factored in neighboring counties’ EMS service charges.

A cost breakdown shows that each service would increase by several hundred dollars, with the costs of more expert care increasing the most.

service type Current cost Proposed cost
Basic life emergency $375 $477
Life Support Level 1 Advanced Emergency $425 $725
Life Support Level 2 Advanced Emergency $550 $1,285
Cost per mile (urban) $8.50 $10.25
Cost per mile (rural) $10.25 $10.25

There is no change to the rural cost per mile for ambulance transportation. There is also a proposed cost to call the paramedics providing on-site care. The proposed cost “No transportation, but administration of an advanced life support system” is $85.

The proposed costs are similar to current costs in Berkely County. There, the basic emergency cost for life support is $400. Advanced Life Support Level 1 Emergency is $725. Advanced Life Support Level 2 Emergency is $1,285. In Berkeley County, the cost per mile, regardless of service area, is $9.

The proposal would also authorize the county administrator to create procedures for annual updates and hardship claims.

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