Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal is the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, author of “An American Sickness,” and is a former physician herself. We asked her how to avoid getting huge surprise medical bills.
Following is a transcript of the video:
DR. ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: One of my favorite stories in the book is a woman who was in a minor
bike crash. She knew she’d hurt something. Everyone said, “Oh, let’s call an ambulance.” And then, like a month later, she gets a bill from the ambulance company. And it was for, like $800. And she said, “Wait! There must be a mistake here. This was the fire department ambulance.”
And the ambulance company said, “Nope. We charge, and we’re not in your network. And you owe us.”
And she could have taken a cab to the hospital, but the ambulance was there. She went along with it, and didn’t think much of it.
We like to think of ambulances as doing a public service which they clearly do do, but they’re also charging now. They’re billing, and they’re often out of network.
I’m a jogger, I was running in New York, and I tripped on the pavement and landed facedown, near Columbia. A bunch of students ran up to me and said, “Oh, can we help you? Should we call an ambulance?” And I was like, “No! I am walking to the hospital.”
When people call an ambulance, or think, why don’t we just call an ambulance or get in an ambulance there may be financial repercussions.
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