A new study has found that the rise of Uber cars in US cities has reduced per capita ambulance volume by at least 7 percent. This is due to the fact that the people in general are avoiding expensive ambulance rides and opting for the cheaper Uber ride.
This makes sense as patients not in a condition to drive but also not requiring some serious medical support on the way can opt for an Uber, which will cost them and their insurers a fraction of the price. An average ambulance ride in the US, according to the research paper by Kansas University, can cost people thousands of dollars.
"Many patients don't need something that can break traffic laws and don't need something staffed by paramedics with a bunch of fancy equipment," said David Slusky, assistant professor of economics at Kansas University and co-author of the research paper.
Slusky with co-author Leon Moskatel of the Department of Medicine at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego examined the ambulance rates from 2013 (since Uber became available) to 2015 in 766 US cities.
The study concluded that a seven percent drop in ambulance usage was detected after the introduction of Uber in the above-mentioned cities. As a result, one possible implication could be that health insurance companies could encourage patients to use an Uber instead of calling for an ambulance.
Also, the research claims that if more patients start traveling to the hospital using Uber, then patients having a serious requirement of medical attention on the way to the hospital might be able to avail paramedical service more easily when needed.
"Given that even a reduction of a few minutes can drastically improve survival rates for serious conditions, this could be associated with a substantial welfare improvement," the researchers explained in their paper.