Use of ambulances in Beijing will be charged by distance

Ambulances in Beijing will be fitted with taxi-style meters in an effort to allay public concerns about overcharging.

Beijing has introduced new regulations, which will see people charged for ambulance journeys according to the distance for the first time.

Ambulances in Beijing: new guidelines

According to the new guidelines, patients will only be charged for the portion of the trip that they spend inside the vehicle, rather than paying for the time spent waiting for an ambulance.

Patients will reportedly be charged 50 yuan (approximately US$8) for a distance of up to 3km, with 7 yuan (US$1) charged for each additional kilometre, China News Service reports.

It is believed that Beijing’s municipal government has introduced the distance-related charges to ease worries over high flat charges previously seen.

However, the response has been mixed, with much-expressing concern that ambulance drivers might take convoluted routes to push up the fare.

A New York Times article from 2013 looked at the cost of ambulance journeys, with one 15-minute trip through New York costing a patient US$1,772.


New charges on ambulances in Beijing: what are the concerns?

On social media, the fact that ambulances charge for their services at all is news to most users. “I always thought that ambulances were free,” writes one person on the Sina Weibo microblogging site. Plenty of people think it’s unethical to charge for emergency services, and one user wonders: “Will you need an entrance ticket to go into hospital in future?”
A few users think that ambulance meters are a good idea, with one saying it’ll help them “be more efficient”. But some sarcastically suggest that – as with some unscrupulous taxi drivers – the meters might provide an incentive to take the long way round.
“In future, don’t rule out ambulances taking a detour when using the meter,” one man says.



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