You Ask. We Investigate ®: Taken For a Ride

You Ask. We Investigate ®: Taken For a Ride

Martín Di Felice

Palm Springs, CA

Two years ago Marjorie Harrell suffered a medical emergency. Her son called 911. She says something was off with her Parkinson’s medication.

She describes how she felt, "Your heart races, your blood pressure goes ooo up and down like in seconds up and down up and down it just goes like this and your head pounds like it’s going to burst." 

 An ambulance from American Medical Response got her to the hospital and she’s okay. But that’s where her trouble started.

"I got this notice in the mail from a collection agency which stopped me in my tracks because I’ve never got one in my life. 

The notice was from that ambulance ride two years ago. But Harrell and her insurance company were never sent the  bill.

"My insurance had never receive any bills, I never received any bill, I never received a notice they were going to put it in the collections hands, nothing,"

And she says it couldn’t have gotten lost in the mail, "Not missed a bill or anything in five years that I’ve lived in this location and their is the only bill I didn’t get? Give me a break."

She says her whole life she’s been meticulous with her bills so  getting sent to collections  was devastating, "You know you don’t get to be 83 and never have a collection and then all of a sudden in the mail you get something like this it’s very upsetting." 

She called AMR and the collection agency many times determined to resolve the issue. She’s a retired accountant so she kept good records.

"At least three or four collection, three or four to the ambulance and two or three to my both insurances so four, eight, 12, you’re looking at 14 to 16 calls now you know for me at this point as you can see one call zaps my energy," says Harrell.

She says the answers she got were frustrating, "The collection agency said they cannot bill anyone they only collect, well, I understood that, you know and then I called the ambulance back and they couldn’t bill because it had gone to the collection agency."

And when she pushed for a reason why it was sent to collections without ever sending a bill she was shocked at the response, "It was my responsibility, get this, at that time to tell them who my insurance was, well I’m really kind of out of it with the IVs in the arm and the whole bit what am i going to tell them at that point?" 

The worst part is the worry from this is affecting her health, "It has messed me up this kind of stress is very bad for my condition and I’ve worried about it since i got this notice."

She says reaching out to KMIR news was her last resort, "I have to do something about this, i can’t just let it lie there and die with it on my record for heaven’s sake." 

We reached out to AMR. They looked into it. A few days later they told us the matter was resolved. They refused an interview  saying  HIPPA laws prevented them from giving us details  but said they apologize for any inconvenience this caused.

So, we visited Margie again and she gave us the good news, "I got a phone call from some lady who was very friendly to me at the beginning and wanted to tell me the problem that i had was all taken care of and i said, ‘wait a minute, what do you mean taken care of?’ she said, ‘the debt that you owe has been taken care of you no longer owe that amount,’ well you could have knocked me over with a feather!" 

She says she’s happy to get that bill off her mind and is grateful for the help, "I appreciate it, I really do."

If this happens to you the best thing to do is to call the company’s corporate offices. They often are not aware of issues that arise on a local level and are usually quick to help.