Miscommunication leads to large EMSA bill

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 6/24/2013 5:24 pm Published: 6/24/2013 3:56 pm

There is less than a week left if you want to opt out of EMSA's TotalCare program.

In the City of Tulsa opting in means they add an extra $3.64 a month onto your water bill. In exchange, EMSA covers all expenses for an ambulance ride.

Last year, FOX23 reported EMSA was running into billing problems and FOX23 has learned it is still having issues.

Adam Viles' son had to take an ambulance ride in January. He lives in Jenks, where every resident is automatically enrolled, and they pay $2 a month on their water bill.

He told FOX23 EMSA billed him for more than a $1,000 and sent a collection agency after him.

"My son, (who) has epilepsy, had to get an ambulance ride. It's something that happens pretty often with us," said Viles.

Then, out of the blue, a few weeks ago he got a bill saying he owed $1,350.

"They said that because they hadn't been able to get a hold of me, that they had sent me to collections, some attorney's office. So, I guess they're suing me, basically," he said.

The problem was he had recently moved to Jenks from Broken Arrow and he had changed insurance companies.

EMSA didn't have the new information.

"They kept sending a bill that they couldn't get the right insurance information to my old address in Broken Arrow, without contacting me any other way," said Viles.

Kelli Bruer with EMSA said everyone, whether they're in the TotalCare program or not, will receive statements after an ambulance ride.

"If you're not receiving a statement from us, that should be a red flag," she said.

Viles assumed since he was being billed for TotalCare that EMSA had his correct address.

Bruer said the City of Jenks does the billing and then pays EMSA, so EMSA doesn't necessarily have Viles in their system with updated information.

Viles said EMSA refused to take his updated insurance information and told him he had to take it up with the collections agency.

"It would have been better for me to not have insurance whatsoever, than to have insurance and be on this program. Because now neither one of them will take it," he said.

And that, he said, defeats the whole purpose of paying the monthly fee.

"When I was living in Broken Arrow I was not on this program. And my bill wasn't $1,350," he said.

Bruer said this is an isolated incident of miscommunication and is working with Viles on sorting it out.

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