‘It is a big financial hit’
Price jump in ProHealth’s patient transport draws some locals’ ire

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

June 10, 2015

WAUKESHA - A local health care provider believes a recent price jump in its patient transportation services will help ensure the program can continue, but some locals say the move is making a dent in their wallets.

Since June 1, the price of a round-trip ride to and from a doctor’s appointment provided by ProHealth Care increased from $14 up to $80 - a move that has upset some area residents, who believe the rate hike will price out some cash-strapped patients.

“It is a big financial hit,” said Mary Thorpe, a resident of Merrill Hills Manor who uses the service multiple times per year. “If you think it is costing you something - no matter what insurance coverage you have - just to go to the doctor, and then you go from $7 to $40 and round-trip is $80, that is almost hard to believe.”

Thorpe said she has to pay that price out of pocket and has begun exploring other options to get to and from her doctor’s appointments - including a Medicare van and local cabs - but she has found no alternatives as cheap at the ProHealth service was.

Because of her location, a one-way cab ride to downtown Waukesha costs her $13, while the Medicare transport is $10.

“I can squeak by doing that,” she said. “I would rather continue to pay what I had paid ProHealth, but I just don’t know what they were thinking (about) the feeling of what people can bear.”

Susen Rasmussen, PHC’s marketing director, said the organization remains committed to providing non-emergency medical transportation services for the community, but rising costs have forced a re-evaluation of the program to try and make it more sustainable.

ProHealth considered outsourcing its transportation services, according to Rasmussen. A partner was selected and service was tested earlier this year, but she said the quality of the service “was not what we want for our patients.”

“Individuals who have used the service in the recent past were all contacted (about the price change),” Rasmussen told The Freeman. “Depending on their location, a number of private or public transportation providers may offer service at a lower cost.”

Despite the rise in price, Rasmussen said, it was done to ensure the service - one she said has been eliminated by several other health care providers in recent years - is able to continue.

ProHealth has also created a list of other transportation methods on its website to help individuals find a ride, and financial assistance is available to individuals who qualify.

Sue Evenson, a Town of Waukesha resident who had open heart surgery in January and needed the service earlier this year, said she was surprised to see the jump in price. She has since stopped using it and resumed driving herself.

“There were a lot of us that got up in arms because we just couldn’t believe it,” Evenson said. “I called them and I said you’ve got to be kidding me. You upped (the price) six times? What is the point?’ They said, well we couldn’t afford to ride anymore at seven dollars ... Eighty dollars to go see a doctor is outlandish.”



www.prohealthcare.org

Email: mmasterson@conleynet.com