City of Yukon, Samaritan eye ‘opt-out’ memberships

Yukon residents could soon have an ambulance membership for as little as $3.65 per month after the city council heard a proposal Tuesday from Samaritan EMS.

The membership proposal would be an “opt-out” contract that would be paid through a $3.65 levy applied to residential water bills.

Currently, residents must “opt-in” to participate in the program, said Jason Likens, the chief executive officer for Samaritan Emergency Medical Service.

The “opt-in” option has not been well received, he said. Only about 750 of the city’s households are participants in the program.

Under the “opt-out” scenario, water customers in Yukon would automatically be enrolled in the ambulance program. Those not wanting to participate would be required to contact the city to “opt-out.”

Those participating would see an additional $3.65 charge on their water bills beginning in June.

In return, should they require a medically necessary ambulance, their bill would be covered through the membership.

However, those contacting the city to “opt out” would be responsible for whatever bill remains after insurance covers its portion of the bill.

Similar programs are offered in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman and Tulsa.

Should the city agree to participate in the proposal, Yukon would pay Samaritan a subsidy totaling about $300,000. The subsidy would be derived from money generated through the water bill fees.

The city council could consider the proposal at its March 6 meeting. Letters notifying customers of the service would be included with their March 15 water bill.

Residents would have until May 15 to decide whether to participate in the program.

Those wishing to participate would need to do nothing. Those who want to opt out would need to contact the city’s utility services department.

After May 15, residents would not be able to discontinue the service until the following year.

Samaritan has served as Yukon’s ambulance provider since last March when it took over for EMSA.

Since then, Likens said the service has responded to 3,160 calls, of which 84.6 percent resulted in a visit to a hospital emergency room.

Of those calls, only a handful had a membership with the ambulance service.

A typical ambulance trip costs $1,400.

Likens previously has said Samaritan is owed more than $2 million by those who have been treated, but don’t have a membership.

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