Utah couple gets hit with sky-high surprise air ambulance bill
HIGHLAND, Utah — It had been 18 months since Robert Ross had a stroke on vacation in Page, Arizona.
His wife, Lori, called for an ambulance, and Robert was taken to an area hospital. He didn’t stay there long.
“They observed him for half an hour,” said Lori, before the doctors decided Robert needed to be flown by air ambulance to a better-equipped hospital. “They tried to [fly] him to St. George, but because St. George was closed because of COVID and wouldn’t admit him, they [flew] him to Provo.”
Robert recovered. Then the bills came.
At first, the air ambulance bill for the ride from Page, Arizona, to Provo, Utah, cost $89,770.
The Ross’ insurance, Cigna, paid a portion. Lori appealed for more to be paid, but the air ambulance company continued to send bills — this time for $12,995.
While significantly cheaper than the initial bill, Lori told KSL Investigators she shouldn’t have had to pay anything — she had met her out-of-pocket max for 2020, and therefore her insurance should pay 100% of the bill.
Lori said Cigna seemed to agree with her, but she’d spent months trying to get them to pay the remaining balance.
“I have called them. They say, ‘Oh yes, this is a mistake, we need to send it back through,’” Lori explained. “Then I’ll call a month later, but it’s not being taken care of.”
For Lori, the solution seemed easy: “Just pay this bill and let me get on and quit worrying about it.”
KSL Investigators reached out to Cigna on Lori’s behalf through their media relations spokesperson. In an email statement, the spokesperson said the air ambulance was “not a Cigna-contracted provider,” but that her claim had finally been “corrected/reprocessed,” leaving her with “ZERO payment responsibility.”
Cigna’s spokesperson said the air ambulance company, Classic Lifeguard, “is the one that billed the customer.” Our emails to Classic Lifeguard requesting comment on the situation were not returned.
The Affordable Care Act made it federal law that emergency situations should be processed by insurance companies as in-network services.
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