The federal Medicare health insurance program winds up paying the fare for many of the ambulance rides provided by the city of St. Paul.
That’s why the city in 2012 was one of the largest single recipients of the program’s payments among nonhospital health care providers in Minnesota, according to data released this month by the federal government.
Of more than 19,000 providers who in 2012 cared for Medicare patients in Minnesota, St. Paul’s take of more than $2 million was the ninth-largest individual sum.
Whether they were providing ambulance rides or treating illnesses, the state’s nonhospital providers collected less money on average in 2012 than their peers across the country, according to a Pioneer Press analysis of the data.
Health care experts say relatively low payments in Minnesota make for a familiar story, since low use of health care services here means doctors and other providers tend to collect less overall from Medicare.
“We tend to not only have lower prices here, we tend to have lower utilization,” said Mark Sonneborn, vice president for information services at the Minnesota Hospital Association.
“Where a physician somewhere else might see a patient six times per year, we see a similar patient four times — it’s just our way.”
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