The Cost Of Calling An Ambulance And The Nightmare That Ensued

There is nothing scarier than being in a situation where you have to call 911 in fear of losing someone's life. I've dialed those digits two times in my life. Both times I was scared sh-tless. Little did I know that the second call would lead me to a 10+ month-long surprise ambulance bill nightmare.

The first time I dialed 911 was when I was in middle school. I was home alone with my mom when she fainted and wouldn't respond. If you're a parent, don't underestimate the importance of teaching your kids about 911 emergency services. You just never know what could happen.

The second time I dialed 911 was this past winter when our daughter unexpectedly went into anaphylactic shock. She was only 9-months-old at the time. Too young to speak, all she could do was cry and beg for “HELP!” through her eyes.

Fortunately, both my mother and daughter fully recovered. But unfortunately, I never expected that calling for an ambulance that second time would be the most expensive phone call of my life.

The Cost Of Calling An Ambulance: A Shocking Surprise

After we got past the chaos and waiting at the hospital, our follow up visit, and dietary adjustments, life got back to normal.

I didn't think much about how much we would owe in medical bills. I was just focused on making sure we didn't have another scare like that and counting our blessings.

We had a platinum PPO plan at the time with United Healthcare that cost $2,300 a month. Thus, I figured we'd owe a reasonable amount of money in co-insurance.

I guesstimated $200-$300 for the ambulance ride and $400-$800 for the ER.

But I found myself caught in a surprise ambulance bill nightmare about a month later. The horror story started when I got an envelope in the mail from AMR, American Medical Response, the ambulance company.

Unsuspecting, I ripped it open only to instantly feel my stomach knot up and my pulse shoot through the roof. It said I owed them $3,532 for our daughter's 20-minute ride to the hospital. What?!

I started to panic. Surely that's not right. We have insurance. There must be a timing issue. We can't owe that much with our plan.

Boy was I dead wrong. In actuality, I had just become another victim of surprise ambulance billing.

Related: How To Compare Health Insurance Plans And Save Money

What Is A Surprise Ambulance Bill Anyway?

If this is the first time you've heard of surprise ambulance billing, I'm glad you're reading! One of my goals this year is to educate more people about this horrible, convoluted dilemma that few people outside of the medical and insurance arena know about.

A surprise ambulance bill is an unexpected invoice of considerable size sent to a patient for out-of-network emergency transport. In other words, a giant balance bill from an ambulance provider.

Even though some insurance plans like mine say that ambulance transport for out-of-network providers is covered the same as in-network providers, there is a catch. And that catch is what screws a lot of people like me.

The catch is that if an out-of-network provider does not have contracted rates with your insurance carrier, they can charge you 5x, 10x, 20x, or more if they want.

Your insurance company will likely process the claim using in-network contracted rates. But since the ambulance company doesn't accept contracted pricing, they stick you with a balance bill.

Your chances of getting a surprise ambulance bill depend a lot on where you're located, your insurance, and if there are ambulance providers with contracted rates in the area. Some states and locales have laws to prevent surprise ambulance bills, but not many.

How An Ambulance Ride Cost 10x More Than Expectations

To further clarify how someone like me with top-tier PPO health care insurance got screwed, here's how things happened.

  1. AMR charges me ~$4,250 for our daughter's ALS1 Emergency transport, mileage, testing, medications, and monitoring services.
  2. My insurance company processes the claim as if it were in-network. They apply a plan discount of $3,360 bringing the “amount allowed” down to $898.
  3. Then my insurance company calculates my 20% co-insurance owed, which equals $180.
  4. My insurance company sends AMR a check for 80% of $898, which is $718.
  5. AMR records the $718 payment and sticks me with the $3532 balance.
  6. I get very PO'd, stressed out, and lose sleep over this BS situation.
  7. Screaming in my head, I decide to fight tooth and nail to get the charges reduced somehow.

The cost of calling an ambulance is extremely hard to figure out until long after the fact. By then, you just might be out of luck if you don't have the financial means to pay.

Getting The Runaround By The Insurance Company And Ambulance Provider

When I first saw my EOB (explanation of benefits) from my insurance carrier saying I would only owe $180, I was thrilled. The way I interpreted the claim, things looked good. Obviously, I didn't yet understand what was really going on.

I wait several weeks after getting the initial surprise ambulance bill. Then, I start to sweat the AMR balance isn't updating from $3532 to $180.

Surprise Ambulance Bill AMR

I call their customer service many times to try and get an update. But, all I get are impatient reps from an overseas call center saying “$3,532 is how much you owe ma'am. There is nothing we can do. How would you like to send payment?”

Grrrrrr. My normal calm demeanor turned red with anger.

After multiple calls to AMR, my insurance company, and a contracted third-party negotiator, I began to boil.

AMR wouldn't back down and said they couldn't negotiate rates “by law.” The third-party negotiator said they tried but couldn't do anything else to help me.

Finally, my insurance company said they reviewed my claim twice and that it was processed correctly. Ugh.

Determined To Fight A Messed Up System

Tired of talking to unsympathetic overseas reps for hours and not getting anywhere, I decided to turn my fire into fuel. I didn't want to pay such an outrageous bill without a proper fight. So, I decided that I would only bite the bullet and pay if I pursued all possible avenues.

I encourage you to also put strong emotions to good use. For example, you can use rejection as motivation to do more with your life. And you can use perpetual failures as an incentive to save money and plan for a better future.

I started to research other surprise ambulance bill stories and learn more about the system.

Even though I felt a $3,532 balance bill was excessive, I was shocked to hear some people have been slapped with surprise ambulance bills in the tens of thousands.

As part of my research, I wanted to find out if things could have turned out differently if we had taken a different ambulance.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Ambulance Providers In San Francisco

I was surprised to learn there are only 3 ambulance providers permitted to respond to ALS 911 emergencies in San Francisco. ALS stands for Advanced Life Support. BLS stands for Basic Life Support. EMS is the catchall term.

As it turned out, two of the 3 ALS providers showed up to our house almost simultaneously. The San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) and American Medical Response (AMR). SFFD seemed to be there as backup and didn't charge us anything thankfully.

Here's a matrix of the current list of ambulance providers in San Francisco if you're curious.

List Of San Francisco Ambulance Providers

The kicker – none of them are in-network with our insurance (UHC)! Turns out there are zero in-network ambulance providers within 30 miles of our zip code. AMR used to be in-network in San Jose, but terminated back in 2016. No other major insurance carriers in San Francisco have any in-network ambulance providers either.

So, I would have been screwed no matter who showed up at our house. I guess that makes me feel better.

Not really.

It's shocking the only in-network ambulance companies we have within a 60 mile radius are WestMed Ambulance in San Leandro and Hayward, and Baystar Medical Services in Burlingame.

The Positives Of A Surprise Ambulance Bill

Admittedly, I'm not always the best at seeing the bright side of a bad situation. I have a reflex tendency to panic and think the worst. But, there's always a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Even though this whole ordeal has been incredibly stressful, here are the positives of our surprise ambulance bill.

  • Our daughter is alive and well, hallelujah!
  • Saving her life is worth WAY more than $3,532
  • 911 dispatch answered my call immediately
  • And they dispatched the EMS team while I was still on the phone
  • Both the SF Fire Department and AMR paramedics showed up crazy fast
  • 6 EMS first responders were on site to help save our daughter's life
  • The paramedics were SO calm, kind, and attentive
  • We did not get COVID-19 on the ambulance ride or the hospital
  • This ordeal motivated me to raise awareness of surprise ambulance bills and hopefully get us one step closer to more protective legislation
  • Our ability to pay the ambulance balance bill can help keep AMR in business so they can save others' lives, including those who can't afford to pay
  • The ~$3,300 in savings we got this year for switching from a Platinum to a Gold insurance plan covers most of the balance bill.
  • My credit score could be in jeopardy, but I'm not done fighting yet!

The Health Insurance Saga Continues

Wondering if I caved in and paid the $3,532 balance bill? Nope! I fought for a very long 11 months and finally got a resolution. You can get all the details here and learn how to resolve a surprise ambulance bill as well.

It was a crazy roller coaster of a journey. But I learned so much and will never look at ambulances the same way again.

I also wrote a post on why our EMS system is broken, which I recommend you read as well. Lives and bank accounts are in serious trouble if things continue the way they are. You'll learn what's wrong with our EMS system, the gaps in current legislation, what should be done to fix it, and some important lessons I learned throughout my ordeal.

To be fearful of asking for medical attention because the cost might ruin your finances is just not right!


Sam's Perspective About This Surprise Ambulance Bill Fiasco

My dear wife shielded me from this saga for several months because she knew I would get pissed off as well. We have this running joke in our house for difficult situations: There's no need for both of us to suffer!

That afternoon, I decided to follow the ambulance to the Emergency Room while my wife accompanied our then 9-month-old daughter in the ambulance.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, I wasn't allowed inside the hospital. Only one parent or guardian was. Therefore, I waited in my parked car for five hours, praying everything would be alright. Not being able to help your child in need is one of the most difficult things a parent can experience.

During this time, it really got me thinking about how people and companies take advantage of others during their most vulnerable times. Although I'm thankful for the medical attention we received, I'm also surprised there isn't legislation in San Francisco, California to better protect its citizens from medical price gouging for ambulance rides like ours.

The surprise $3,532 ambulance bill makes me question the need for having a gold or platinum PPO health insurance plan that costs over $2,300/month.

If United Healthcare isn't going to cover such emergencies, we might as well get the cheapest health insurance policy possible. Maybe a doo doo brown plan.

Price for medical care versus inflation

Maximum Motivation To Build More Wealth

Costly medical bills is another reason why we need to stay focused on our finances. With no stable job with benefits and no government health care subsidies, we're on our own. I have no doubt roughly two-thirds of bankruptcies in America are due to medical issues.

After reading my wife's post, I'm now motivated more than ever to build more wealth and boost our passive income streams. I thought we had enough money, hence my current sabbatical and desire to re-retire. But perhaps not if medical costs continue to skyrocket.

The system has a way of keeping us trapped in a never-ending cycle to make more money. Ideally, I would like to get to a level of wealth where we don't have to stress about what a 20-minute ambulance ride costs. Is that so much to ask?

Please think twice before retiring early with kids or becoming an entrepreneur. Having one parent work a traditional day job may be the best combination if the other parent wants to take more risks.

At the end of the day, there's nothing like a health scare to make you appreciate life more! We just never know what tomorrow will bring, or heck what today will bring. Thus, if you have dependents it's important to consider buying life insurance.

Have A Pre-Mortem Checklist

Finally, the best thing we can all do is have a pre-mortem checklist for various types of potential emergencies.

List out the potential emergencies and list out the steps you would take in case of such emergencies. This way, you can think more calmly and rationally when bad things happen.

We now have antihistamines and epipens in case of future allergic reactions. We'll administer the medicine and we'll take our daughter to the ER room ourselves if necessary.

Of course, if things seem really bad, then we'll dial 911 and pay whatever medical bills that come our way.

Oh, and if you have a baby/toddler, the most common food allergies are: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. Sesame is another one that I've heard about from several moms.

Always discuss an action plan with your child's pediatrician before introducing new foods. It's helpful to go slowly in small increments. You can also have children's Benadryl or Zyrtec on standby if you know the correct dosage based on your child's weight. Please discuss this thoroughly with your child's pediatrician first for more details. 

Recommendation: Get Life Insurance

If you have debt and/or dependents, it's important to get life insurance to protect your loved ones. I recommend getting free quotes with PolicyGenius, the #1 life insurance marketplace today.

With PolicyGenius, I was able to double my life insurance coverage to $1 million and pay less. For the longest time, Sam and I had mismatch life insurance coverage, which made no sense. PolicyGenius provides you real quotes all in one place so you can get the best price possible.

Readers, have you ever had to call 911 for an ambulance? Did you receive a surprise ambulance bill afterwards? If so, how much was it, what type of insurance did you have, and was the ambulance in-network? What city/state were you in?

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91 thoughts on “The Cost Of Calling An Ambulance And The Nightmare That Ensued”

  1. Hi, I think you will find this video quite an insightful – “John Oliver explains how emergency medical services function in the U.S., why they can be so expensive, and what we can do to fix things”

    Fiat Lux –
    ‘A $3000 per ride ambulance, driven by a minimum wage slave without health insurance for himself is the perfect sad metaphor for the clusterfuck which is US health care. That’s what you get if you promote greed and selfishness as a virtue while at the same time demonizing socialized medicine.’

  2. Michael Church

    Hi! I have worked as a paid EMT in the past and currently volunteer with my towns local service. Most volunteer services do what is called ‘soft billing’ where your insurance is billed and you are billed but if you cannot pay they do not send it to collections. I can’t completely justify the cost of you ambulance bill but I thought if I broke down the cost it might help. I will break it down per call which in your area is probably about 1 hour from the time you call 911 to that ambulance being cleaned, restocked, and paperwork completed.
    Daily cost:
    Ambulance $10 (ambulances are $250k new and need frequent replacement, certified, and insured.)
    Fuel $10
    Medics $75 (average pay is $25/hr in CA but add in insurance/retire/taxs/training)
    Medication $300 (Assuming standard of care of oxygen, IV, benadryl, and epinephrine)
    QA and Billing $50 (Assuming AMR has internal or cheap QA and billing)
    Equipment $10 (equipment is rediculous. A stretch can be $30-50k, Cardiac monitors another $15k, uniforms, stairchairs. Maybe $100k in items that wear out.)
    Downtime $40 (Ambulances don’t sit around all day but they need to be staffed between calls)

    Total $485 cost per call.

    Now keep in mind 911 ambulances legally need to transport regardless of ability to pay. A significant percentage of the patients cannot pay anything, such as drug overdoses, homeless, unemployed etc. Add to that the vast majority of ambulance calls are for elderly patients on Medicare which only pays a few hundred dollars at most (medicare is worse than insurance companies). Companies like AMR need to make all of their profit and cover costs on probably 10% of patients.

    1. Insightful! Thanks for sharing. And also, thanks for volunteering.

      I completely understand the need to make a profit and the need to charge more to cover those who cannot pay. It is what we do for taxes, healthcare, etc.

      I just hope that more people don’t have to put off getting medical treatment out of fear of financial ruin. More transparency in pricing and more reasonable pricing would be a great start.

      1. David Harris

        Hi, I am a class action attorney located in San Diego, California. I am currently in the process of investigating AMR for potentially unlawful billing practices like the ones discussed in your post. If you would be willing to answer a few questions for me, to help with my investigation into these surprise ambulance bills, I would appreciate it. Thank you!

  3. Now to really piss you off, go ask how much the AMR paramedic makes from those insane charges…

    (Just be clear, I’m being sarcastic and the Paramedic only sees a small, small fraction of the bill)

  4. Unfortunately, I too experienced a very similar unexpected ambulance bill at a very similar time in my son’s life. Although different circumstances, my nine month old son just needed acetaminophen and was fine (dumb rookie parent mistake) but he was taken to the ER via ambulance because he was experiencing seizures and we panicked as new parents with our first child. Long story short, we had a high deductible HSA plan (like many people do today especially those in relatively good shape) and got burned by the high deductible. Even as a CFO of a healthcare provider and dealing with insurance companies all day, every day, it’s a very very complicated system that even has me double and triple checking my EOBs wondering what exactly is happening. The system is really built upon those with a high propensity to pay will subsidize those who cannot afford it, and unfortunately those who cannot afford it suffer from a downward spiral of lower credit and inability to grow long-term wealth. Not ideal and definitively regressive. However, as you say in the article, it’s best to set aside money for an “emergency fund” because you never know if it’s a health scare or flat tire, everyone has their bad luck quota and it’s best to be prepared when it’s your number called.

  5. I’m glad your daughter is ok. Your system is so crazy – for someone like me who likes to plan, how you cope with these sudden expenses is beyond me. I’m very grateful that the UK has no bills atpoint of care, so birth of both daughters, one baby with broken leg, or my emergency admission and 5 day stay in critical care with pneumonia and sepsis cost us precisely nothing extra. Good luck for the future.

  6. United Healthcare is a SCAM, if you ask me. So are many other “insurance” companies.

    CASE NO.1

    I take my daughter to get a FREE mandatory shot to enter the school system here in the US. She had almost all shots already, missing one. I looked on the United Healthcare Oxford website for an in-network doctor, got an appointment and got the shot.

    Supposedly FREE.

    I got a bill for $884. After many calls and yelling, they still got us to pay $125. Let’s say it’s been 2 years since she saw a pediatrician, I just cannot afford this. So we keep her healthy and safe. We’ll have to look for a pediatrician here in New Jersey, as we moved, and on September she starts school again. Happy times :(

    CASE 2

    I get a referral from my PCP to have a mammogram and breast sonogram. Never had these since we immigrated (close to 3 years).

    I call the hospital she works with, the tell me YOU ARE IN NETWORK. I go to have the procedures done and ask again, at the reception “are you sure you are in-network’ with me?”

    As there are hundreds of practices that can do this in-network, I see no reason why I should go out of network.


    This is what the receptionist tells me, after checking my insurance card.

    I go in, have the procedures, now I have 2 big bills:

    1. 800 dollars from the doctor who supposedly did the procedures (she appears out-of-network, although I was told we are in network). I didn’t see the doctor anyway, as procedures were done by technicians.

    2. 3545 dollars from the hospital, the insurance company tells me they are not in network. I called the hospital 2 times already and they confirmed we are in network.

    What do I do now?

    1. Oh gosh, so sorry to hear what you’ve gone through! Case 1 – perhaps the doctor’s office put the wrong billing codes or billed to the wrong doctor. It’s so hard to know. I got $700-$800+ vaccine bills for my son a few years ago when his doctor’s office was going through administrative changes. There were all these delays on both sides that kept generating bills for out-of-network services by accident. I was on the phone constantly, but at least they told me there were errors. Eventually the bills cleared up.

      Case 2 – I’ve heard about many cases of out-of-network doctors and technicians working at in-network hospitals. Maybe like this is what happened to you. There may also be confusion on network coverage for the specific insurance plan you have. For example some insurance plans with the same provider can have totally different networks. It can be so confusing.

  7. Frugal Bazooka

    Samurai Sydney

    Great post. You are a talented writer and should continue to write as much as possible. Outrageous hidden medical costs are the great scandal of our time. When I was a kid very few people had health insurance. Knowing this, hospitals, doctors, ambulance companies etc knew they couldn’t charge outrageous prices because people wouldn’t pay it. As a result costs were relatively low. Of course 30 years ago lawyers and their clients were more ethical as well which kept medical lawsuits to a minimum. Suddenly, (I can almost remember the date in the 1980s) everyone HAD to have the job offered benefit of “health insurance” and then ALL medical costs went thru the roof. Why? Because whatever the insurance company limits were, suddenly…magically, that was the exact amount of the billing. It’s terrible and it will eventually drive a majority of the country to accept a socialist medical system – which may be the only thing worse than what we currently have.

    P.S. Very happy that your daughter is well.

    1. Thank you! I am humbled by so much feedback. I’m really glad I was able to share my story and am so shocked at how many other horrible medical billing stories so many people have. It’s nuts!

  8. Glendae Ekstrom

    I called 911 but didn’t take a ride to hospital. Later I received a check for $1500 but I’d never received a bill. I contacted ins co and they had me tear up check and proceeded to inquire of correct billing. Later, ins sent me a check for $200 and I still hadn’t received a bill. I had to continue requesting a bill before I would pay $200.

  9. I got screwed over as well. I fainted at work and even though I was ok, someone called 911, and when the paramedics asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, I remember thinking for a second, I’m going to get screwed over with the bill, but I was in a stressful situation so I went. Of course, a few weeks later, I received a bill for almost $1000 for a 10 minute ride to the hospital + an hour stay in the ER where they did nothing except take my blood pressure and monitor me. I tried calling my insurance company to fight it but they wouldn’t relent so I sucked it up and used my HSA money to pay it. I’ll never ever accept an ambulance ride again unless it truly is a life and death situation. Our health care system is so messed up – they don’t treat people like this in other countries. I was lucky that spending $1000 of my HSA money didn’t hurt me financially or put me into debt but I can’t imagine what I would do if I was making less money and living paycheck to paycheck.

  10. SimpleSurgeon

    I am a subspecialty surgeon in a small (2 surgeon) practice.
    1) thanks for sharing this post and I’m very glad your daughter is doing well
    2) I think your wife is a better writer than you are. Haha! Hi-you’re both very talented.
    3) UHC is a sucky insurance product. They are huge and use their massive size to bully patients. They frequently deny necessary cancer procedures and scans that I fight hard to get covered. I will always waive my professional fee if still not covered but the hospital/anesthesiologist usually don’t do the costs are still crazy high.
    4) we almost always give our patients a significant discount (at least 50%) if they are hit with a high bill and have any financial hardship. I have noted that the larger the practice or system, the less likely this will happen.
    5) Medicare for all.

    1. “I think your wife is a better writer than you are. Haha! Hi-you’re both very talented.” I agree!

      My master plan is to have her do most of the writing so I can kick back and play more softball and tennis after fatherly duties. I hope my plan is working. A big goal during the sabbatical.

      Good to know on UHC!

  11. I remember that my parents got slammed with an ambulance bill when my sister broke her arm on a friend’s trampoline back in the 1990s. My dad had just started a new job after having been laid off, and the insurance hadn’t kicked in yet. The bill was $800! Just ridiculous, and of course, people have no idea how much it will cost in advance. It’s sad to see that there is still no regulation on the price of this emergency service, even after 30 years!

  12. Agree 100%. I took pro bono bankruptcy cases when I practiced, and most of them were lower income people with outstanding medical bills. It was extremely frustrating to see, and the worst part was how they had depleted their savings trying to pay them and coming to us as a last resort.

    The medical system (for profit) is broken. My SIL is a doctor and she has an ambulance driver who keeps bringing trauma patients to her small hospital that doesn’t have a trauma center and isn’t as well equipped.

    She figured out that he brings them there because they are “in network” and he won’t be paid for the ride if he takes them to the larger center. Someone will eventually die because of this.

  13. This type of situation is Why I hate the way we have medical care paid for in this country…… I have a few friends that had to file bankruptcy because of medical bills…….Paying a deductible and then 20 percent of what a company decides to charge in a situation where I have no way of negotiating any prices……seems we could do better……

  14. Sam – glad your daughter is well, keep fighting the bill collectors!

    So I have two somewhat similar stories, but both had surprisingly good outcomes.

    Story #1. My kid fell and got scraped up pretty good at like 4:30pm.l on a Friday afternoon in 2019. Local doctor in network said best bet is surgeon at hospital as cut was smal but jagged and required stitches. Long story short hospital was in network but surgeon wasn’t. Surgeons office was very cool and said the out of network issue happens all the time but given circumstances, tell insurance company that hospital was in network and you had no choice in the matter who surgeon was. Insurance billed me $15k and I complained. Rejected first time and I complained second time. Someone at insurance company didn’t respond within the legal time on my appeal so $15k became $0, just like that. (A friend of our had the exact same issue and didn’t end up paying, so I don’t think I would’ve paid much if they got it right Billings wise).

    Story 2: I had COVID in February and while it put me on my butt for a few days and I lost sense of smell, after day 5-6 I started getting better. Low and behold on day 10 I woke up in an ambulance because I had a seizure for the first time ever. 2 days in the hospital running a battery of tests, my bill came out to $30k minus $23k which insurance covered. So I called and googled everything I could about how to lower a medical bill. As I’m talking with insurance rep they said hey wait, did you have COVID cuz your hospital chart indicated that. And I said yes I tested positive 10 days prior but I went to hospital for seizure. Just like that they could tag the bill as COVID related and my bill was reduced to $17 bucks out of my pocket…

    Morale of both stories, insurance is a scam and we can’t do a damn thing about it

    1. Wow… such a maze and hairy process! Glad things worked out for you guys.

      And I’m thinking, it must physiologically feel good to know you have more antibodies now against COVID too yeah?

  15. This doesn’t just happen with ambulance bills. I went to the ER (by car) a couple years ago. The hospital was in-network but the ER was run by a separate LLC group that was out-of-network. My insurance paid the in-network rate but I was balance billed by the LLC. Jumped through the same hoops you did to negotiate the bill and fell flat. I ended up escalating to the insurance company’s account manager for the firm I work for. They approved a one-off payout for the remaining balance. Perhaps not an option if you are self-insured but for others in my situation maybe it will help.

    1. Wow didn’t realize that an ER could be on a different network than the hospital itself. Sheesh! How in the world do they expect consumers to know this stuff? Sorry you had to go through that!

      1. Yeah in my experience working in hospitals a lot of ERs are contracted out ( physician services, not nursing. ) I actually once picked up shifts in a hospital where at least some of the ER docs in that hospital where not in network of the insurance the hospital employees ( it was a mess!) Some ER docs are locums and just pick up whatever shift comes their way in different hospitals.

  16. I had a similar scenario with an ER bill. Was charged like $2k for all of 15 minutes while getting stitches. Doctor bill was separate. I got a call from a collection agency that demanded payment in full in like one week. I drove to the hospital’s business office to talk to someone in person. Found out it was standard practice to accept HALF in the first 6 months to settle the bill!! The collection agency keeps what they get over half… what a scam.

  17. Canadian Reader

    I’m sorry to hear you guys went through this with your daughter. Great to hear everything turned out ok.
    I declined to pay a hospital bill 2 years ago following my daughter’s birth because I was double charged. I’ll spare the details, but was adamant in my stance and let it go to collections. It took about 6 months to hit my credit report and the decline was 181 points for an amount less than 1k!
    If I could do it over I still wouldn’t pay, but I would have never spoken to the collection agent in the first place.
    Hopefully you guys will continue to respond and fight in a more constructive way than I did.

    1. Oh man, dealing with credit agencies suuuucks. So sorry you had to go through that. Getting double charged is outrageous. And the fact that the providers didn’t resolve that for you makes me so angry.

  18. I’m from the Netherlands and reading this story and comments I can only think; how is this even possible? How can a 20 minute ambulance ride cost that much, how can it be that an emergency like that will not be covered by your insane costly insurance.? Afraid that eventually the Netherlands and our insurance companies will go the same way and just hoping we will not!

    1. Yes it is crazy how many medical billing nightmares there are, not just mine! Hope things stay reasonable in the Netherlands. Speaking of which, I hope to return to Amsterdam someday. Had such a lovely trip there several years before Covid. The Netherlands is a beautiful country!

  19. $400 balance bill from an out-of-network anesthesiologist at an in-network hospital for an epidural that didn’t work. That was nearly 5 years ago and I’m still furious about it.

    1. Oh my gosh. I can’t even imagine going through that. Come to think of it I may have gotten balance billed for an anesthesiologist too in the past, but it wasn’t as high as that. I can’t imagine having to pay especially when the epidural didn’t work. ugh!

  20. I’m sorry you had to go through this, but I’m glad to know that I am not the only person who’s mind boils about medical bills.

    About 11 years ago, we were visiting a lot of doctors because of my wife’s rare condition that I eventually solved. So I got to really learn about the health insurance system, and even published an article about dealing with health insurance companies. About 10 years ago, my wife had to go to the emergency room due to a ectopic pregnancy. Everyone was in network, except one physician assistant. Of course we didn’t have a choice. He tried to bill much more than everyone else. Luckily, my health insurance covered (thanks to working for a large employer). Consumer reports did include our story in one of their articles.

    I am disappointed that the newly introduce legislation does not include ambulances. In my own community, our local ambulance will waive all charges if you donate at least $55 a year to them. So I do that. Especially because years ago, I volunteered for a free ambulance service. However, if another ambulance responds, they can charge.

    1. Oh wow. Ectopics are so scary. It is nuts how insurance companies can make things so difficult for patients when an out of network doctor treats you at an in network hospital. I think there are more protections for that scenario now than 10 years ago, but I don’t know the details. I just remember reading about that type of situation when I was learning about available legislation protections.

      Fascinating that your community has a program like that. I’d pay that in a heartbeat if there was something like that in SF. And thank you for the time you spent volunteering when you did. Ambulance services are so VITAL!

  21. Wow. Thanks for bringing attention to this practice.

    My daughter has a severe food allergy (peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame) which is very tough to deal with. She has had two reactions which required going to the hospital and several others that were taken care of with an epi pen.

    Even notifying restaurants that she has an allergy can sometimes not be enough as she was still accidently given an allergen on more than a few occasions despite the warning.

    Glad your daughter is safe. Nothing worse than being a parent and feeling helpless when something happens to your child.

    1. Oh wow such scary stuff. Good to know on the restaurant risk. We haven’t taken our daughter to dine out anywhere due to covid but will definitely play it safe down the road when we start taking her out to eat. I don’t want to go through another big scare like we did. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

  22. Do you know anything about the volunteer EMS ambulances? Do they hit you with similar chrges?

    1. Wow I didn’t realize such a thing existed! Sounds too good to be true. Based on a quick search, you could still get charged although I don’t know at what scale. For example, volunteer ambulances may have to rely on paid EMTs to fill shifts when volunteers are not available.

  23. Glad to hear everything turned out alright with your daughter. The idea that an ambulance service would be ‘out of network’ is insane to an Australian. All the state and territory ambulance services are reciprocal and cost all of $50 a year, assuming that you’re not covered on a healthcare card, as a veteran, a pensioner, or by Workcover, Transport Accident Commission or from insurance.

    1. Thanks Vincent. Yes, even though it’s been one heck of a nightmare billing-wise I’m just glad that she’s okay!

      Wow what a HUGE difference with ambulance services in Australia. That’s taking care of citizens when they need help the most!

  24. First, I’m sorry you and your family had to deal with this. The timing of this post is crazy because I’m dealing with an eerily similar situation. My 11 month old daughter had a febrile seizure and since my wife and I are new parents and have never witnessed a seizure before (convulsions, eyes rolling in the back of her head, stopped breathing, etc.) especially with a baby we called 911. Luckily, she’s okay now but I was totally shocked when I received the ambulance bill for $1,645, which was a 20 minute ride to hospital and the first responders only monitored her during the ride with my wife. The ambulance is an out-of-network provider and they told me they dont (and won’t) participate in any carriers network. I’m located in Rochester, NY and Aetna is my medical carrier. I’m currently still fighting this as well. Ironically, I work in the group insurance field (with ancillary products not medical) and this is completely irrational what we’re going through.

    1. Oh gosh I’m so sorry you had to go through that. How terrifying! I had never heard of febrile seizures myself until I was catching up with a friend at a dinner party before covid. Her daughter was older, two I think, but went through a very similar experience and had to be rushed to the ER and hospitalized too.

      I hope your daughter had a speedy recovery. And best of luck fighting your bill too. It’s so frustrating that insurance companies don’t cover these crazy out of network costs.

  25. Oh, what an awful situation – I can’t imagine what it was like to sit in that car. I’m glad your daughter is okay.

  26. This is just so ridiculous. I’m glad your daughter is ok, but what a hassle and a bunch of stress!

    Not a 1:1 example, but we had a similar issue after a trip to the kids dentist in the spring.

    Our provider has been out of network. We knew this, but typically only cost $50 per child total and insurance covered the rest.

    So after two routine checkups after taking a year off, we were shocked to see a $490 bill.

    Same issue. Insurance covers 100% routine exams up to the “contracted rates” – well our insurance provider changed the contracted rates without informing us or making it available, so that they can claim they covered “it all” while the dentist then billed us for their actual remaining charges.

    I spent months on the phone fighting it. Eventually I got a 10% discount and just paid with my HSA.

    But I agree, what is even the point of insurance anymore? I may self cover rather than paying $2k a month and just switch to a catastrophic plan with HSA.

    1. I feel your pain. Non-contracted rates are ridiculous. I was looking at a dental claim of mine recently and the dental practice’s rates were like 13X the contracted rates. I was fortunate to go to an in-network provider so I didn’t have a balance bill issue there, but the system is so screwed up.

  27. Surprise medical bills were eliminated this year by federal legislation EXCEPT FOR AMBULANCE BILLS. This will be fully in effect by January 1, 2022.

    The reason given was that it was hard to fix this because of the multiple jurisdictions involved.

    My suggestion is to contact your Congressman or Congresswomen, and your Senator and share your story. Advocate that a new bill be created and passed to close this final loophole.

    A previous comment about for profit insurance companies paying less than the actual cost in most cases is unfortunately correct in this instance, and probably in the vast majority of cases.
    Fixing suprising billing in this remaining loophole will need to establish a mechanism to establish reimbursement from the insurance company to the out of network ambulance company.

    1. Yes, it is so aggravating that the new federal legislation specifically excludes ambulance bills. California has certain protections against surprise billing, but it too excludes ambulance rides like mine. It’s a complicated gap in consumer protections.

    1. Would it be? Or would the ambulance company send a notice to the credit agencies if they cannot pay?

      Since graduating college, I’ve always been the one to pay taxes and pay extra so others can receive subsidies. So I’m used to it.

      I know it’s my duty to stay fit, minimize my burden on the healthcare system, and pay unsubsidized healthcare insurance. But I’m not sure if I should pay for the top insurance programs any longer.

  28. To say our countries health insurance system is broken is an understatement. I have 3 daughters now, at one point in time each of them and my wife and I were all on different health care plans, each trip to the hospital to give birth to a child was an insurance nightmare. After 50 phone calls between the hospital, insurance provider, and county worker (kids are on CHIP) over the period of several weeks and getting no where I called our state representative – all of our billing problems were resolved within 24 hours!!
    Among many frustrations we’ve been double billed for things and all they list on the bill is a cryptic “billing code” that gives no information about what your being billed for, we’ve also been billed hundred+ dollars for OTC medication like Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I could write a book with all of our healthcare headaches…

    I hope you get the surprise bill resolved! Try calling your state reps, if they can’t resolve it for you right now you can encourage them to write laws to protect others in the future.
    God bless, glad your daughter is safe and sound!

    1. $100 or more for Tylenol is a trip. Now that you mention it, I do remember some very expensive over-the-counter medication when our daughter was born.

      The irony is, you would think all these costs would make all of us try to be more fit and healthy. But so far, we are not sufficiently afraid of the financial risks that awaits.

  29. My dad was taken to the ER in an ambulance a few weeks ago.

    We are wondering what surprise billing he/we will get in the months ahead even though he has medicare and medicaid.

  30. I truly feel your rage and I appreciate your efforts in fighting a broken system. Also, your post prompted me to search for “surprise medical bills” and I came across a 7/1/2021 page from announcing a new rule banning surprise billing. I hope this is really what it sounds like it is.

    “Among other provisions, today’s interim final rule:

    Bans surprise billing for emergency services. Emergency services, regardless of where they are provided, must be treated on an in-network basis without requirements for prior authorization.
    Bans high out-of-network cost-sharing for emergency and non-emergency services. Patient cost-sharing, such as co-insurance or a deductible, cannot be higher than if such services were provided by an in-network doctor, and any coinsurance or deductible must be based on in-network provider rates.
    Bans out-of-network charges for ancillary care (like an anesthesiologist or assistant surgeon) at an in-network facility in all circumstances.
    Bans other out-of-network charges without advance notice. Health care providers and facilities must provide patients with a plain-language consumer notice explaining that patient consent is required to receive care on an out-of-network basis before that provider can bill at the higher out-of-network rate.”

    1. I believe this is the new No Surprises Act legislation that has a lot of new protections but still excludes ambulance transport. I’ll be doing more research on the types of legislation and the gaps in my follow up posts. Thanks for the link!

    2. As a federal govt retiree I have FEHB insurance and I reside overseas.. I have chosen a PPO plan which covers all services outside of the US as if they are in-network. It is ridiculous that I can visit the best physicians anywhere in the world except the United States and not worry about out of network costs. I contribute to an HSA annually but recently learned that when is 65 or older and collects social security the automatically enroll you in medicare part A and you cannot opt out. A group of govt employees even sued and lost. I will receive zero benefits from Medicare yet it prevents me from contributing to an HSA that I might actually use. I avoid all travel to the US unless absolutely necessary especially now that the US pretends the pandemic is over.

  31. Sam- I was struck by an automobile while cycling two weeks ago. Went down hard and fractured my pelvis in two places. Fortunately the fractures are stable so no surgery, just a prolonged period of rest that is challenging for an active person. Crutches. Physical therapy after 6 weeks of healing.

    First invoice received? You guessed it. Ambulance ride under 2 miles- $2087.84. This is in a fairly large midwest city with hospitals and ambulances everywhere.

    Provider didn’t ask about insurance coverage just generated the invoice fishing for fee-for-service reimbursement.

    I’m not paying it until I find out what my various policies cover.

    1. Wow sorry to hear that Matthew. Glad you didn’t need surgery; that’s good news at least!

      Best of luck with your insurance claim. Check if there’s a due date on the ambulance bill. You can ask for an extension and to have your account put on hold while you work with your insurance provider to process the claim. If you don’t take any action and don’t contact the ambulance provider at all, they could send your account to a collections agency – that’s a whole ‘nother nightmare I went through.

      So be prepared to make a lot of phone calls and speak to multiple people on both sides.
      Log everything, dates you called, who you spoke to, etc. Best of luck!

  32. Aloha Sam,

    After reading your article, I checked with my husband about his midnight ambulance ride to the hospital during a heart attack.

    We live on Maui 5 minutes away from the local hospital. We have PPO insurance and our bill was $1600 of which the insurance company paid approximately $1550.

    It saddens me to read your story. Thank God you have the means to cover your bill, but what about those who don’t? If there are no in-service ambulance providers in your area does that mean that anyone who has used ambulance services paid thousands of dollars? Can everyone in your district afford that price or are you being targeted because you live in an affluent area?

    I have two concerns, 1. You were falsely lead by your insurance company’s advertising to believe you would be covered. They knowingly offered you a service that did not exist in your area. 2. You were targeted by socio economic factors from the insurance company, due to your zip code. Certainly a type of discrimination.

    I’m not an attorney or medical provider, but your bill is outrageously expensive. You have the means to fight this. Please do so for those who can’t.


    1. Aloha Linda,

      I really don’t know what happened to the people who cannot afford to cover an emergency bill. Maybe they borrow money from friends and family? Maybe they go to credit card debt.

      Or maybe they just don’t pay and go into hiding and let their credit get ruined, following them along for years and years.

      It does feel like United healthcare has missed lead us into emergency care coverage. So I encourage everyone to ask what is covered and go through their health insurance coverage plan carefully.

      These surprises are terrible for everyone just trying to save, budget, and do the best they can to take care of their children.

      Glad your ambulance ride was covered! And I hope you are thoroughly enjoying Maui during the pandemic. I think I might go out in a couple weeks.

  33. Thank you for sharing this story Sydney. Good on you for continuing to fight this. As bad as surprise billing is with ground ambulance, air ambulance takes it to a whole different level. I encourage everyone I meet to read The Price We Pay – What Broke American Health Care And How To Fix It by Dr. Marty Makary, MD. In short, hospitals used to own their air ambulance helicopters, and often took a loss on the helicopter operation because the reimbursement for the procedures/treatments needed in the hospital for the transported patients would make up for the loss. Over time, however, investors saw opportunity and offered to buy the air ambulance services from most of our hospitals. This disconnected the transport from the medical treatment, and allowed private air ambulance companies to go after patients directly for any portion not covered by their health insurance. You can imagine how that goes with air ambulance organizations run by investors.

    In many states, stand-alone air ambulance insurance is extremely inexpensive, and may be worth your time investigating.

    1. Oh yes, emergency air transport costs are vomit inducing. It’s unbelievable how much it can cost. Haven’t heard of air ambulance insurance before – good to know!

      1. Air ambulance insurance is very cheap, less than $100 a year for the entire family. It was a no-brainer for me to purchase after a friend fell from a horse outside of Tahoe and it cost him $40,000 for a 15minute helicopter ride to the hospital.

  34. Wow thanks for the educational post and glad everyone in your family is okay!

    While not directly related, I had a surprise medical bill last year when I woke up at 2am with a bat flying in my bedroom and it showed signs of being rabid.

    Even though there was no sign of a bat bite while I was sleeping I was still strongly encouraged to get the rabies vaccine due to how aggressive it was at me (It chased and followed me throughout my condo for an hour and crawled under my doors to find me). I now am afraid of bats

    It just so happens the only place you can get the rabies vaccine is the emergency room. If I didn’t have insurance I would have had to pay $25k but even with insurance I still had to pay $3k out of pocket.

    I now refer to black swan events in the stock market as black bat Events… who knew waking up with a bat in your bedroom could be so expensive…

    Best $250 I paid was getting my house bat proof so another one doesn’t come in!

    1. oh my gosh that sounds terrifying. How the heck can rabies shots only be available in the ER?! Wow. That is so ridiculous you had to pay 3k out of pocket for that. Augh the system is so screwed up.

  35. Bucky Badger

    I work for a small company that had an insurance broker hold a meeting to explain that medical providers often send bills that are above and beyond their contracted rate. These providers want to receive ongoing payments from the insurance company to cover their mortgage and they also want to trick people into paying fee for service. This broker asked us to send her any surprise bills and she basically went over the contract with the provider and basically told them to pound sand on the surprise charge.

    After learning her process, I have successfully handled two ambulance trips to emergency room successfully by simply paying the emergency room fee to the insurance provider. I one case for an $1,800 charge, I sent a copy of my emergency room services payment to the insurance company along with an explanation that whatever money is due them is between them and the insurance company. I also sent the relevant section of the ACA that backed this up. Case successfully closed.

    The second time involved emergency medical evac with a helicopter. My Kaiser co-pay was $200. Kaiser handled everything behind the scenes, including dealing with the out of network emergency expense because I was transported the nearest trauma center.

    The takeaways are be aware that providers will send you bill that they don’t have right to send you and it is up to you to know what you are responsible. Since you are in Northern CA, take a look at Kaiser Platinum Plans with capped emergency room fees. I have found that they offer plans with lower deductibles and fixed emergency room costs at a price point that would be competitive with the rate you quoted. Many times when I price shopped I calculated the difference in deductibles was simply the same as adding on the difference in deductibles to your premiums. Not so with Kaiser.

    1. Wow what crazy experiences and glad you got your claims resolved! I think CA does have protections for air and ground transport between hospitals, but not for initial trips to a hospital.

      Thanks for the feedback on Kaiser!

      1. Bucky Badger

        My helicopter evacuation was an initial trip to the hospital and was after being a passenger in a roll over automobile accident. I was unconscious and woke up in UCLA Medical Center in an MRI machine. They were certain I had broken something major and had my neck in a brace and I was strapped to a backboard. They didn’t find anything and I didn’t get admitted.

        The cost was approximately $40K. The Kaiser contracted rate was somewhere slightly over $20K. The emergency room told me my Kaiser co-pay was $200.

        The other occasion with the $1,800 surprise billing that I chased off by sending them my receipt and relevant section of Obama Care that covered it was also an initial trip to the hospital.

        There are two important points here for the Samurai Community. Understand the terms and conditions of your insurance plan. My family uses very few medical services, but Kaiser really came through for me when I needed them. They managed the entire situation for me.

        The second example I cited about repelling the $1,800 surprise ambulance charge was the direct result of a Broker going above and beyond to teach everyone at my company about the tricks medical providers use to collect fees that they are not contractually entitled to. I hope that others just having knowledge of this will help someone else like it helped me.

        These situations are not California only. They are Federal and part of the Affordable Care Act.

  36. Sam, do you wonder why there are NO in-network ambulances in the entire city of San Francisco?? As you know, SF is not a small city, and there are many large corporations based there, and those employees probably have better health insurance than you. But still no in-network ambulances? Hmmmm… that’s because then insurance companies don’t want them in-network!! Take it from me, I am a physician, and know the tactics of these companies well. When they don’t want to pay, they simply refuse to contract with the ambulances (and physicians, as well). Now, you are a reasonable person; do you really think it only costs $898 to transport someone in a death situation to the hospital with 2 EMTs, and a rolling ICU through the streets of SF? The public needs to wake up and recognize the root of “surprise billing” is with the insurance companies themselves. Stop blaming the ambulances and physicians.

  37. Many ground ambulance companies and private helicopter companies service hospitals throughout the country. Ambulance costs of this magnitude and air ambulance costs of $35-$40,000 are common place. Many ambulance companies and most of the helicopter companies are now controlled by private equity. Private equity infiltration into the healthcare system is driving up costs and consolidating medical specialty groups is also likely contributory to rising community costs Most of these companies refused to negotiate with United healthcare and Blue Cross and other massive insurance companies and are out of network for the vast majority of patients in United States


  38. This situation has happened to me regarding hospital costs-what I did was work out a looong payment plan-of $50.00 per month until it was paid off-The amount was within my budget and I protected my credit.

  39. Story is a good warning against one of the most predatory and profitable insurers in the land, UHC. They have a track record of disrupting coverage contracts, promising and underdelivering on contracted rates, and failing to cover essential services like radiology, anesthesia, and such, because the physician groups don’t accept their uncompetitive reimbursement rates. If your employer uses UHC, ask for an alternative.

    Dr. JB

    1. Completely agree. I run a physician group and United is regularly at the top of our problem payer list. I can see why nobody wants to contract with them. Curious whether ambulance services would be in network with Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser which are comparatively reputable companies.

  40. Hi Sam, I am your avid reader. While I don’t agree with all of your posts, I do agree with 80%+ of them and your web-site is super-fun to read.
    I understand the importance of saving money and fighting for what’s right. However, we all know that the US healthcare system is f***ed. You have a lot of money (relative to the $3,532 bill). You worked hard, wrote 3x weekly for 10+ years in order to grow the site, increase the reader base and accumulate wealth. Why do you care about fighting this bill? Why wouldn’t you just pay it and forget it? Isn’t the whole point of having a lot of money in the bank so that when you get a surprise $3k+ medical bill which you know is sort of non-negotiable, you can just say “screw it”, write a check, forget it and go to the softball practice? The whole point of having a lot of money is being able to solve life inconveniences by writing a check instead of being bothered and getting stressed by those inconveniences. Why wouldn’t you just pay and continue to enjoy the stress-free life which you deserve?

    1. Because no matter how much you have or who you are, you always try to do what is right or fight for what you think is right.

      Nobody likes to feel like they get ripped off. And we don’t have enough wealth yet to comfortably pay $3,500 for a 20-minute ambulance ride just yet.

      We hope this post can help other people who might encounter similar unfortunate situations think things through, learn more about the situation, and help people during difficult times. Having a pre-morten for emergencies is important.

      Maybe this post might even be used to positively affect future legislation, or change AMR’s and UHC’s billing policies.

      That’s really one of the main purposes of Financial Samurai: to help. If you are fortunate to know something that can help others, I think you should share.

      Curious, how much do you think person should make a year or have been net worth to be able to not feel uncomfortable about paying a $3500 ambulance bill? Do you think it makes a difference if someone has a job or not or family or not? What is your current financial situation? Thanks

      1. Well said Sam. Even though I can now afford to let the smaller mistakes go if I wanted, I still will fight back against most billing errors, “fees”, etc just over the principle of it. Im tired of these rich companies as well as well-paid incompetent people getting over on us. You really have to watch everything, not just medical. I’ve been more motivated to fix things myself rather than pay a huge markup for parts, labor and any other fees they try to tack on.

  41. That is so freaking scary. I’m really glad your daughter is okay. Something has to be done about this nutso medical system we have. There are just too many ways for medical service providers to gouge people without their advance consent. The ambulance example is a great one. When you need emergency services, are you going to have time to shop around? Obviously not.

    Another awful one I’ve seen is out-of-network doctors who examine you while you’re staying in an in-network hospital. Assuming it’s a non-emergency visit, you can do all your homework in advance to make sure the doctor and hospital are in your health plan, and think everything is going to be just fine. That is, until you learn that the anesthesiologist chosen by the doctor or hospital isn’t in your plan. Or that while you were recovering from surgery (and possibly even unconscious!) a doctor may have been making rounds, may have picked up your chart and looked at it for a few minutes, and then BAM, you get slapped with a large bill for an out-of-network doctor reviewing your chart. WTF.

    The only solution I can see is single-payer healthcare. I know there are drawbacks to that, too, but there are so many people out there getting completely fleeced by this patchwork medical system, and it’s usually people who need emergency care. That is just completely unfair and unconscionable.

    At the very least, there should be a law that provides that if you weren’t given an option to review or consent to a certain provider, they should be limited to charging you the lowest rate that they charge to any patient or medical insurance company. If they’re agreeing to take that rate under other circumstances, they should be willing to give that rate to you, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to shop around or give consent to their prices.

  42. Scary stuff. I’m glad she was ok.

    I’m wondering if EMS services will send your bill to a collector after 30 days like a hospital would. You could deal with it at that point. Yes, this could affect your credit, and you shouldn’t not pay out of spite, but it could be a strategic option.

    Clearly, EMS companies deal with a lot of unpaid invoices as a nature of their business, so they have to make it up by packing all invoices.

    1. They probably have. And that is the downside of not paying an egregious bill on time.

      It is a gamble that one has to consider and take if they want to fight their bill.

      If the bill was under $1500, we would probably just pay it. But I’d over $3500, that feels like highway robbery for a 20 minute ride.

      I’m confident we will come to a positive resolution. Stay tuned.

  43. Thanks for this post, Sydney; glad to hear your daughter is well! I look forward to reading your follow-up post to see how you fought the system! Healthcare is genuinely outrageous here in the United States.

    As someone who has had many medical issues over the past years and spent $15,000+, I can relate. Doctors want an assistant in the room with many surgeries nowadays, but insurance generally won’t cover this. So, before my surgeries, I had to sign off acknowledging I likely would get surprise bills and how I would have to pay them. Fortunately, both times the amounts were reasonable, but a better system needs to be put in place.

  44. I’m glad to hear everything turned out well for your daughter! Such a harrowing tale I’m sorry to hear you face.

    It makes me wonder if there is anything we can ban together to do for a legislative fix in CA? While that doesn’t help people nationwide directly, it can be a start and model for other states to follow. If you’ve got a petition, I’ll give it a signature!

    1. The petition should not be State Specific, because, I think all you need is 50k signatures to have a bill introduced, with the internet , online petition, the petition would probably get over 75k signatures, if each one of us would sign it, send to emails and post on Facebook I other social media, the numbers would add up. I will sign and distribute..

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