Tag Archives: money

Resolving the ambulance bill

14 May

I called American Medical Response this morning about the bill I received. I first said that I thought that they weren’t giving me enough time to resolve the insurance situation, and that the five day turnaround that they expected was inconsistent with the policy on their website, which says “Payment of the account is required within thirty (30) days of receipt of the invoice.” The customer service representative offered to extend the deadline by thirty days, and, naturally, I agreed to this.

I then asked whether they had any insurance information for me at all. The rep said they had that I was insured by BlueCross, and that I should contact my insurance company about an authorization. This wasn’t very helpful because both of my insurance plans are affiliated with BlueCross, but I didn’t press the issue further.

I next called Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts (my parents’ insurer) to see how I could go about getting an authorization for the transportation. The representative informed me that no claim had been filed by the ambulance company at all, and that, in fact, no claims had ever been filed for me on the plan. I told her that I’d call the ambulance company with my information, and asked whether I’d need an authorization. She looked it up and determined that I would not. She asked if I knew whether it was in-network, but I didn’t know. She told me that for emergency service, they’d cover the charges in full, but for non-emergency service, I’d have to pay 20% if it were out-of-network. She also mentioned a deductible of $250 per person or $500 per family.

I called the ambulance company again, and they confirmed that they only had my student insurance plan information. I don’t know how it happened that way because the EMT on the ambulance did find both insurance cards in my wallet. In any case, I gave the representative my information for my parents’ insurance, and he said they’d submit the bill that plan. I asked him if he could tell me what the due date on my bill was, and he told me that I could disregard that, and they’d send me a new bill if I ended up owing something after insurance.

I’m still not entirely convinced that the insurance companies are going to pay for this. I’ll believe that when I see it. If nothing else, though, at least I have some time for things to work out.

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The first bill

13 May

My accident was five and a half weeks ago, and I just received the first bill from the incident today. This bill, from American Medical Response, is just for the ten-mile ambulance ride, and it came out to $1,592.90. Most of this should be covered by my insurance, but the bill tells me,

No authorization has been provided for this claim. If you do not obtain an authorization you will be responsible for payment in full for this claim.

I’m surprised that they don’t have an authorization from my insurance because the EMT on the ambulance went through my wallet (with my permission), found my insurance cards, and told me that my insurance information was “going through.” Obviously, this isn’t the same as claiming to have an authorization, but I don’t know what else he could have meant.

This message was followed by a customer service number, which was closed for the evening when I dialed it. I followed up by attempting to call both of my insurance providers, but they were also closed for the day.

The due date on this bill is May 18, which is Monday of next week. The invoice is dated May 8, which was Friday of last week, but the bill didn’t arrive until today.  Fortunately, any payment that I owe will only have to travel as far as San Francisco, but that still means I’ll have to put a check in the mail on Saturday, so I need to resolve the insurance situation by Friday.

Even giving American Medical Response the benefit of the doubt and supposing that they actually mailed the bill on Friday, it took them twenty-five business days to get any billing information on its way to me, and I’ll have two business days to sort things out. I’m very lucky that I can afford to pay for it if I have to, but I can’t help but see this as symptomatic of a badly broken healthcare system.

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