New California Law Offers Fresh Protection From Steep Ambulance Bills

by | Nov 7, 2023 | Health

Last year, Jennifer Reisz’s college-age daughter, Megan, was kicked in the chest multiple times by the family’s horse. Megan fell to the ground, unable to move or speak. Though she was alone, her Apple Watch detected her distress and called 911.

She was taken to a hospital in Clovis, a city in Fresno County, near where the Reisz family lives. But the severity of Megan’s injuries — four broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung — prompted doctors to transport her 12 miles by ambulance to the Level I trauma center at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

While Megan was still recovering at home from her injuries, she received a $2,400 bill from the ambulance company — after the family’s health plan had paid nearly $2,200.

“When we received the bill, I thought our insurance company was processing the claim incorrectly,” says Jennifer Reisz. An attorney, Reisz says she then spent hours on the phone with the health plan, the ambulance company, and a few consumer advocates. She learned that the ambulance company was not in the health plan’s network and was permitted to bill patients for any uncovered portion of its charges — a practice known as balance billing.

Starting Jan. 1, ground ambulance operators will be barred from doing that becau …

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