Receiving a bill for emergency services such as an ambulance ride is not something you want to have happen, but it's all too common. It was so common that Congress passed a national law called the No Surprises Act. However, some people are still getting surprised when they open their mail to find they owe more money that their insurance won't cover.
Ground Ambulances Aren't Covered (Yet)
The new surprise-billing laws cover air ambulances but not ground ambulances. The reason was that Congress wanted the ground ambulance issue to receive further study. This means that for the time being, you may get these surprise bills from a ground ambulance ride and have to pay for them if your insurance won't cover them. But there is hope for the future if the committee tasked with evaluating ground ambulance services decides those costs need to be covered by surprise-billing laws, too.
Balance Billing for Emergency Services Is Generally Prohibited
Emergency services do and don't include a ground ambulance, depending on who you talk to. You should not be receiving balance bills for general emergency services, such as being in the emergency room, but again, you may receive one for the ambulance. If you think you received a bill that you shouldn't have, contact the hospital or doctor's office first (look for patient advocate officials there), and then your state attorney general's office if your doctor's office can't or won't help you.
Make Sure the Extra Bills Are Actually "Surprise" Bills and Not Just Surprising
A bill for a cost that you thought was covered is not pleasant, but sometimes it's not a cost that is being balance-billed. Sometimes it's a cost that you actually owe because the service wasn't covered (e.g., those ground ambulance rides) or that used a different category than you were expecting. For example, maybe you confused your co-pay with your co-insurance amount, thinking you'd owe a smaller co-pay only to find that there was also co-insurance that applied in addition to the co-pay. You can speak with your doctor's billing office to determine which cost is what.
There is hope that future legislation will cover surprise billing from ground ambulances and that somehow, the government will work out better coverage and reimbursement levels for health insurance. In the meantime, you should be able to work out a payment plan for the costs that you really do owe.
Reach out to a service such as the Town of McCormick to find out more.