Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Premiums rise when insurance is billed

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I would like to remind Patrick Lacefield, the director of the Montgomery County Office of Public Information, that, despite what his letter says, insurance companies do not have a magic pot of gold to dip into when paying out claims (‘‘Residents will not be charged ambulance fee,” April 30 commentary). They can only afford to pay out as much money as their customers have paid to them.

How long will it take the insurance companies to figure out that they are losing money and increase their rates? Whether directly or indirectly, this rate increase is going to come out of our pockets.

I am fully in favor of funding our Fire and Rescue Service, but please do it through budget cuts in other areas, instead of finding ways to hide new taxes on us.

Eric Finch, Silver Spring

I am a Montgomery County firefighter and EMT. As a volunteer I am shocked and disappointed that Montgomery County would consider charging ambulance fees for the help that I and others provide on a volunteer basis.

It’s a mistake to believe that by creating ambulance fees to cover the cost of providing emergency services the county can transfer a fundamental responsibility of local government to insurance companies without any hidden negative impacts.

People in need of emergency assistance should not be given cause to delay dialing 911 to reflect on what fee might result by calling for help. It is shortsighted to not consider that insurance rates (shared by all who are insured) will necessarily increase to cover the cost of the ambulance fees. Another hidden cost will result from the need to hire more career emergency service providers to replace those volunteers who refuse to serve if patient charges are instituted.

Emergency services should be provided by the community for the common good.

Harold V. Tarver, Wheaton