You’ve been in a car accident in the Bronx; someone calls 911 for an ambulance and the New York City Fire Department ambulance arrives on the scene to take you to the local hospital, perhaps Jacoby Medical Center or Montefiore Medical Center. The hospital and your doctors submit their bills for medical treatment to your no-fault insurance company for payment. Everything seems good and you don’t have to pay for the medical treatment. But what about the FDNY ambulance bill?
The FDNY notoriously sends a bill months after they provide the service to you. The problem is that the law requires that medical bills be submitted to the no-fault insurance company within 45 days of the date the service was rendered. By the time you receive the FDNY ambulance bill, it’s too late to submit to no-fault and no-fault will deny the bill. Besides, since the hospital and the doctors have all accepted assignment of your no-fault benefits (that means that they can submit their bills to no-fault and get paid directly by no-fault), you assumed that all the bills will be submitted directly to no fault.
One year later, you receive a collection letter advising you that you owe $476.00 for the ambulance bill. Below is a copy of a portion of a collection letter from ASSETCARE, Inc. a collection agency representing MEDCLR, Inc. a company which purchased the FDNY ambulance bill for pennies on the dollar and is now trying to collect the amount from the injured car accident victim.
This is a common occurrence and probably happens with almost every car accident when the fire department ambulance is called. If the FDNY fails to timely send their bills to the injured or to no-fault, it is unlikely that they will see much money from the collection agency. For my clients, I immediately notify FDNY of the no-fault insurance claim information, even before they ever send a bill. This will ensure that my clients are not responsible for the ambulance bill.
If you were in a car accident and transported to the hospital by an FDNY ambulance (or any other ambulance), make sure you call them to provide the ambulance service with the no-fault insurance information and get a copy of the bill so that you can submit the bill within 45 days to your no-fault insurance company.
If it’s already more than 45 days after your car accident and no-fault has denied payment of the ambulance bill, you should send the bill to your health insurance company with a copy of the no-fault denial.
If the FDNY ambulance transports 10,000 car accident victims to the hospital in one year, that comes to $4.76 million per year at $476 per transport. It is amazing to me that the City of New York can close firehouses when they have been losing millions of dollars every year because they can’t do their billing properly. There is an extremely simple solution that would allow the New York City Fire Department to be promptly paid by no-fault on 100% of every transport involving a car accident. If the City of New York, the FDNY, or any politician is interested to know the solution, please call me and I will be happy to provide it.
Philip L. Franckel, Esq.