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Denver couple billed nearly $2K for ambulance ride next door has bill reduced to $0

Federal committee set to consider covering "ambulance gap"
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Posted at 5:26 PM, Apr 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-25 16:44:41-04

DENVER — Contact Denver7 is getting results for a Denver family hit with a surprise ambulance bill.

In February, Mary and Alvin Gordy almost lost hope they would resolve a surprise bill for a surprisingly short ambulance ride.

But since Contact Denver7's initial story with the Gordys, they have seen their bill reduced to zero.

"Thank you Channel 7 for helping us out because you've been a big, big, big help," Alvin Gordy said.

Alvin Gordy, who is battling stage 4 cancer, had a seizure at his doctor's office in July 2022. An ambulance then took him to Swedish Hospital's ER next door.

"The doctor's office is connected to the hospital," Alvin Gordy said. "I think the doctor could have put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me over there."

Mary Gordy said they have insurance through Cigna, and their explanation of benefits was clear: They would not have to pay anything.

What wasn't clear was why bills kept coming from Northglenn Ambulance stating they owed more than $1,900. Emails sent to the Gordys state that it's because of "balance billing" also known as surprise billing.

Getting results: Denver couple billed nearly $2K for ambulance ride next door has bill reduced to $0

Surprise billing is when the difference between what hospitals or ambulances charge and what insurance companies pay is passed on to the patient.

"Ultimately, consumers end up being blindsided when they get these bills," said Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

Fox said balance billing is now illegal under the federal No Surprises Act that went into effect last year, but ambulances were left out.

It's been called the "ambulance gap," and a federal advisory committee is set to address it next month.

"I think the biggest question is what does that solution look like? And ultimately, how quickly do we see that solution?" Fox said. "I will say that we are also looking at the state level. Are there ways that we can sort of help fill the gap a bit further at the state level?"

Until then, Fox said, patients like the Gordys need to push back. The Gordys recently received an email from Northglenn Ambulance stating their balance is now zero, with insurance paying more and the ambulance charges going down.

"After contacting you, Jaclyn, you can clearly see that the base rate got lowered and the insurance code changed, and then notice all these other fees. Poof! They're gone," Mary Gordy said. "And we hope that this helps other families to realize, keep the lines of communication open, keep pushing, go back and forth. It's a lot of work."

Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need we can address or have a story idea for our consumer investigates team to pursue, please email us at contact7@denver7.com or or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here. You can also use the form below to request help from Jaclyn Allen and the Contact Denver7 Team.


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Use the form below to send us a comment or story idea to the Contact Denver7 Investigates Team. You can also email Contact7@denver7.com or call our newsroom at 303-832-0200.