Earlier this summer, a woman riding the Orange Line in Boston got her leg caught in the gap between the platform and the train. Although she did not suffer any broken bones, her thigh was cut down to the bone. Fellow passengers who heard her scream rushed to her aid. Accidents are no stranger to public transportation, but begging for good Samaritans NOT to call an ambulance is rather unique.
“Do you know how much an ambulance costs?” she wept.
As ten people rushed to move the train car so that she could get her leg free, the woman pleaded that no one call an ambulance because it would cost her thousands of dollars. Ultimately, the injured woman was taken to Boston Medical Center where the depth of the laceration would require surgery.
Jim Hooley, chief of Boston EMS, said that an ambulance sent to transport people within the city would cost $1,200 to $1,900. As he explained: “We just worry about taking care of people. We don’t want to cause them more stress. We just want to reassure them that nothing bad is going to happen to them because of their inability to pay.”
These are noble sentiments from someone in the business of helping people get the medical attention they need. However, such is the reality for Americans—many of us are one accident or illness away from bankruptcy, since medical costs are a primary reason Americans declare bankruptcy.