The Attorney General of New York has announced a settlement with a private ambulance company that was accused of violating state law for engaging in a practice known as “balance billing” where the patient is sent a bill for the difference between what the company charges and what the patient’s insurance covers. Some of the accounts in question were placed with debt collectors for collection.
Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay full restitution plus interest to the patients that were billed, close all relevant accounts with collectors, update its billing practices, and pay a fine of $100,000.
A copy of the Assurance of Discontinuance with Mobile Life Support Services can be accessed by clicking here.
Under state law in New York, whatever amount is paid by an individual’s insurance coverage is considered to be payment in full for ambulance services, and those services are prohibited from seeking additional reimbursement from individuals, except copayments, co-insurance, or deductibles.
Mobile Life will update its processes so that in the event it is unsure of the insurance coverage for an individual, it will sent two letters asking for the individual to submit insurance information. If the patient does not respond to either letter, only then can the company send the patient a bill for the services that were provided. When patients have healthcare coverage or if any letters are returned because they could not be delivered, Mobile Life is prohibited from placing those accounts with debt collectors.
“Mobile Life Support Services took advantage of vulnerable patients with illegal billing and debt collection tactics,” said Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York, in a statement. “When New Yorkers are in need of emergency medical care, the last thing they should be worried about is being exploited by the very company entrusted with helping them. Mobile Life will return all of the money they took from innocent New Yorkers, and my office will continue to defend patients from such predatory behavior.”