Am I Responsible for the Ambulance Fee if I Refused Transport?

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The cost of being transported to a local hospital via ambulance can make anyone’s jaw drop. Even a short, one block drive wherein they provided no EMT assistance can easily be billed at $750+. While it’s true that most insurance companies do cover ambulance transport, high deductibles and lack of adequate insurance coverage often leave patients responsible for the full amount.

Imagine the following scenario: You were involved in a minor accident, whether automobile or otherwise. Finding yourself either without injury or having sustained only minor injuries, you decide to make your way to the hospital on your own. Bystanders, other drivers, or security personnel who witnessed your accident, however, may have deemed it necessary to call 911 on your behalf. What happens, then, when you’re surprised by the arrival of a bleating ambulance that you feel you never even needed?

Many patients have reported being informed that they could not refuse transport via ambulance in NJ. One man was essentially strapped down against his will (he had a broken arm and was unable to resist) and driven to the hospital. The drive took 2 minutes, and no treatment was given throughout his ride in the ambulance other than stabilization of his arm. A week later, the man in this scenario was billed almost $1000 for the ambulance service.

Another scenario played out like this: After a minor fall at work, a woman found herself with a minor abrasion on her leg. It was a surface abrasion, and she had it cleaned and bandaged by her company’s in-house nurse. A security officer witnessed the accident (it was a minor trip and fall that the patient acknowledges was no one’s fault but her own) and called 911. The woman was already back at her desk working when she was surprised by the arrival of an ambulance. She refused transport, but it wasn’t easy to convince the emergency medical team members that she did not need treatment. They eventually left without her, but she too received a bill for an ambulance ride that she never even took.

Who is responsible in these (and similar) scenarios? Finding yourself with a hefty medical bill that you can’t afford can be overwhelming – but what should you do if you feel that you’re not even responsible for the bill?

In every situation where you’re faced with a medical bill that either isn’t covered by your insurance, or is still more than you can afford even with insurance coverage – the best course of action is to negotiate. Almost every medical bill can be negotiated, either before treatment occurs, or after it has been administered, and this includes ambulance transportation.

If you don’t want to deal with a huge hassle and you did actually receive transport via emergency vehicle, you can call the provider and tell them what you can afford to pay. Many times, you will find that they are happy to receive at least a portion of the billed amount. They may also work with you to set up a payment plan so that you can pay the bill off in installments.

However, if you refused emergency transportation altogether and are still being aggressively billed (with no sign of them backing down), you should schedule a free consult with a New Jersey debt resolution attorney. If you decide to retain their services, you will very likely pay the attorney much less than you would have paid the ambulance service, and you will have the satisfaction of not paying for something that you didn’t receive. Additionally, taking proactive steps to resolve the matter will prevent the ambulance bill from dinging your credit report.

Image credit: Lauren Siegert

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