Uber, Lyft taking business away from ambulance companies, study says

Posted at 4:15 PM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 16:27:28-05

More people are jumping in an Uber or Lyft during an emergency, instead of calling an ambulance. A big reason why is the price tag, according to a new study from the University of Kansas.

The study says ride share companies are taking away about 7% of patients. In 766 U.S. cities across the country in 43 states, the study looked at ambulance rates after Uber came into the picture from 2013-2015.

Brian Winckler drives for Uber and Lyft and he recently made a stop at a nearby hospital.

"It was nothing crazy, not bloody or glory but they were definitely sick and I dropped them off at the emergency room," said Winckler.

People with insurance could pay anywhere from $100 to nothing for an ambulance, and sometimes cities use taxpayer money to pick up the tab. But, without insurance it can be pricey.

For example, if you live about 5 miles from Tampa General Hospital, an Uber there would cost you about $12 during non-peak hours. if you take an ambulance in Hillsborough, it's about $360 plus you've got to pay $12 for every mile.

In Pinellas County, you'll be paying even more - $621 for the base rate and $13 a mile.

Carlos Caicedo has been driving with Uber for 2 months and says he's take anyone that needs help.

"No, no, it’s my job so you have to do what you have to do," he said.

But, when it comes to blood or bodily fluid, Winckler isn't having it.

"No I would call 911, there’s limitation to what I can and can’t do both on a personal and professional level. If I get them in my car and I’ve got blood all over my car I’m pretty much done," he said.

Local doctors at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital said this about the new trend:

"If the family is looking for a means of transportation, this is a good usage. Many people use 911 as a transportation agency. However, if there is a true emergency such as difficulty breathing, seizures, chest pain in adults then an ambulance is much better as the paramedics can begin treatment."