One accident. One location. Why was one ambulance bill three times the other?

September 19, 2022

Voices for Affordable Health has shared many stories about consumers stuck with outrageous ambulance bills. But we had not heard anything like the story shared recently on CBS Mornings.

Peggy Dula was driving with her brother and sister on an unfamiliar road in Illinois when she pulled into an intersection and collided with a pickup truck.

All three were taken to a nearby hospital by three separate ambulances. Though Peggy was the least injured with a bruised sternum, her ambulance bill was almost three times her sister’s bill.

Dula’s ambulance bill? $3,606. Her sister’s bill? $1,100. Her brother’s bill was only slightly more at $1,265.

Dula didn’t understand why her bill was so much higher. Each one had been transported by ambulances operated by three separate taxpayer-funded fire protection districts. Each was charged a different rate for medical services and mileage driven.

Confounded, she called the paramedic billing service and was told the rate was set by the fire district. She repeatedly tried to contact the fire district directly but the fire chief did not return her calls.

“I felt powerless,” Dula told CBS Mornings.

Her insurance plan covered 60% of what it deemed to be the “reasonable and customary” rate for the services she’d received, leaving Dula with a $2,710.94 bill.

“That’s a sizeable amount for me,” she said.

Dula recovered from her injuries but the ambulance bill was eventually sent to collections, even though she’d made a good-faith payment of $40.

Have you or someone you know received an excessive ambulance bill? Share your experience with Voices for Affordable Health.