Ambulance call-out no longer free

By Mai Al Abria — MUSCAT: Dec. 12: If you’re treated by an ambulance paramedic and/or transported in an ambulance during a medical emergency, there is a charge you have to pay — even if someone else calls the ambulance for you. Royal Oman Police (ROP) has hitherto been providing this service for free, but has lately incorporated these charges into the motor vehicle insurance policy. Chapter 4 of the Unified Insurance Policy issued by the Capital Market Authority explains that in the event of a vehicle accident, “The insurer shall bear the cost of medical emergency services provided by ambulance crews working for the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) at fixed amount of RO 400 for any single accident.”

The ROP however insists that the article has been an integral part of motor vehicle insurance policies from the outset, but was put into effect only recently. “In 2016, the government activated the article to reduce the cost of emergency medical services,” said an ROP official. “Emergency health services provide medical attention for illnesses or injuries requiring immediate treatment. Typical examples of injuries that may require emergency health services include those resulting from accidents, heart attacks or other sudden illnesses,” he explained.

A motorcycle rider who had been ferried to hospital by ambulance following a road mishap told the Observer that he had to fork out more than RO 300 in expenses when it was discovered that his bike was uninsured. Where an ambulance is called out for a domestic medical emergency, the ambulance staff evaluate the gravity of the emergency by telephone en route to the location. If the case is indeed a full-blown emergency, the ambulance immediately proceeds to collect and transfer the patient to hospital for free on humanitarian grounds. However, if the case is not viewed as serious, the patient is encouraged to proceed to the nearest hospital on their own.