ED Magedson – Founder
American Medical Response6200 South Syracuse Way # 200 Greenwood Village, Colorado United States of America
This happened 7 years ago (2003). I've tried to let it go, but every time I think about it, it makes me so mad I could chew glass. My wife was going through a difficult pregnancy at the time. Around her 6th month of pregnancy, she collapsed in the ladies room while she was at work. AMR picked her up and took her to the hospital. Fortunately, I had good medical insurance at the time, which covered everything, except for a small deductible. After staying two nights in the hospital, she was released and I thought that was the end of it. Later, she delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
However, a few months later, I received a call from someone saying that AMR had not been paid for the ambulance ride. After speaking to her for a while, I realized that AMR somehow had the wrong billing address. The street address was correct, but they had us living in Oxnard, CA, rather than neighboring Ventura, CA. I explained this to the person that called, gave her my insurance information, and told her that the insurance would cover the ambulance.
Keep in mind that AMR is the ONLY entity that did not get paid throughout this event. The hospital, specialists, lab, etc. all got paid. I believe that the reason is that THEY TOOK THE TIME TO MAKE SURE THEY GOT THE CORRECT INSURANCE AND BILLING INFO. I think that whoever at AMR recorded the info confused the city where my wife was picked up (Oxnard) with the city where we lived (Ventura).
In any case, I once again thought that the matter was resolved. Then I received another call. This call was definitely from a collections agency. They said that I still owed a small balance following the insurance payment. Of course, they're single-minded and it's pointless to talk to them, so I contacted AMR and asked why they had sent a collection agency after me. After all, at no point had I indicated any reluctance whatsoever to pay the bill. In fact, the ONLY reason that they had not been paid months earlier was due to their own incompetence, and not through any fault of mine.
Eventually, I was put in contact with the AMR "Ombudsman". Supposedly, this person's task is to resolve disputes with AMR in a balanced, equitable manner. However, after talking to this person for a couple of minutes, it became quite clear that this wouldn't be the case. This person's true responsibility is more-or-less the same as the collection agency: get money out of consumers any way possible, by hook or by crook. I pointed out to the Ombudsman that AMR had the street address correct, but did not get the city right. I pointed out to her that AMR seemed to be the only party that did not get paid. Everyone else (hospital, lab, specialists) seemed to have no problem billing our insurance company.
I pointed out to her that I had been contacted previously and had (1) corrected the bad billing address; and (2) given my insurance info so that they could get paid. So, why didn't they simply send me a bill for the balance, rather than go through a collections agency? Keep in mind that throughout this whole process, AMR NEVER ACTUALLY SENT ME A BILL. They just went straight to a collections agency when they found they didn't have the correct billing info, which, as I explained before, was their fault, not ours. She kept repeating over and over that AMR had made a "good faith" effort to contact me but was unable to. I pointed out that (1) the person that contacted me and that I gave the insurance info to didn't seem to have any trouble locating me; (2) I corrected the billing info when that person contacted me. Finally, I pointed out to her that our phone number (under my wife's name) was publicly listed in the Ventura County white pages. A Google search turned up the phone number in about 2 seconds. She had no explanation, she just kept mumbling her mantra about "good faith effort". How can you possibly look at someone with a straight face and say that you made a good faith effort to contact them, and failed, when the phone number is publicly listed in the phone book?!! This is why I say this person is merely a shill for the company, rather than an ombudsman. Clearly, AMR has no intent to fairly evaluate and resolve customer issues. They use collections agencies as a standard billing practice and to cover their own incompetence.
(1) AMR never actually sent me a bill (at least to my correct address). They went straight to a collections agency when they found they didn't have the correct billing info.
(2) AMR didn't have the correct billing info because of their own incompetence. As I pointed out above, the hospital, and others, had no problem billing me.
(3) Even after I thought I had corrected their billing information, when I communicated my insurance info to the first person that contacted me, they still used a collection agency to collect the balance.
(4) AMR never made an effort to contact us directly, despite the fact that my wife's phone number was publicly listed, and available through the white pages, or even through a simple Google search.
Unfortunately, consumers can't pick and choose when an ambulance is called. However, I would urge state attorneys general, consumer protection agencies, public health officials, and other city, state, and federal authorities to consider whether they want to have a company providing emergency services to their citizens that practices these kinds of outrageous billing practices.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/28/2010 01:05 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/American-Medical-Response/Greenwood-Village-Colorado-80111/American-Medical-Response-Sent-bill-collector-after-me-because-they-failed-to-collect-acc-675999. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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