I think I have spent about $5,000 ( at least in legal time and photocopying) trying NOT to pay an ambulance bill. I began this tale as one of my first blogs, Do you really need an Ambulance? I think not. I related that my dear 95 year-old mother-in-law was found in pain in her assisted living facility, and the staff correctly called an ambulance. Her pain was evident, so even though she suffered from dementia, which was documented, the ambulance drivers decided to take her to the hospital.
For over a year now, I have been fighting with Medicare to pay this bill. I have told the Ambulance Company, I will not pay this bill, as there is no way my mother-in-law could have made the decision to go to the hospital, let alone CALL for an ambulance. I do not wish to leave these hard working emergency first responders without pay. However, there has to be some manner in which they can support the patient when the first responders make a medical call, that requires an ambulance.
My mother-in-law does not drive. She has never driven. She has never had a car. In an assisted living facility, she has no transportation to go anywhere without it being directed by someone else. The facility is also doing the right thing by calling for an ambulance for a client who seems to need medical help.
Okay, so we’ve established that everyone who actually PARTICIPATED in this trip to the hospital made a rational and correct decision. The only people who don’t agree with this is Medicare and it’s not even Medicare. It’s a company called CMS, an independent contractor, who assesses whether the claim should be paid. So I send 22 pages of documentation with a letter of explanation telling this independent contractor why they should pay this bill.
The first denial is because this darling old lady really didn’t need to go to the hospital. They found nothing wrong with her and sent her home. Yep…..that’s absolutely true. But, I persist with an appeal.
The SECOND DENIAL is because I have NO AUTHORITY to appeal. I call to clarify this.
” If you would like to leave a message, please leave the appeal number, the claimant’s social security number, the date of service and the provider for which you are appealing. Please leave a phone number and we will return your call.”
YOU CANNOT TALK TO ANYONE…..EVER.
They do call me back, and I explain that I am holding in my hand the appointment of representative form that gives me authority to talk to them AND to APPEAL.
“O well, sometimes Medicare doesn’t send us all the paper work in the file so you need to send it to us again.”
I grind my teeth. Call the ambulance company AGAIN to reply to the bill they have sent ME again, and tell them I am still appealing.
The THIRD DENIAL comes because they still didn’t get my paper work. I call them again and they say….”oops”….and ask me to send it again. I ask the representative to explain to me how I will know if they get it…she says:
“Well you might get a notice that we received it…..wait, no, no I don’t think you will.”
Yesterday, I got the ambulance collection agency notice. They are going to sue my mother-in-law, which I kind of want to let them, because she died.
But I leave a message for the independent contractor, who calls me when I am in a meeting and can’t answer the phone. AND THE MESSAGE IS:
“This appeal was dismissed twice for failure to have the proper paper work to authorize you to appeal.”
I am not fing kidding. I’m not.
I was just going to pay the $797.20 bill. I mean they are just wearing me down to the nub. But I decided to give it one more try. I’m waiting for the return call.
To be continued……
And you really, really do…….
Just have to laugh….