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$2,700 ambulance bill withdrawn from collections

Peggy Dula is both surprised and relieved. The 55-year-old St. Charles, Illinois resident had been battling a $2,700 ambulance bill for nearly a year. Now the amount he owes from his September 2021 car accident appears to be zero.

This summer, KHN, NPR and CBS News featured Dula in the Bill of the Month series. The initial charge of $3,600 for Dula’s ambulance ride was significantly higher than the charges received by her two brothers, who were traveling in her car at the time and were transported to the same hospital. The brothers traveled in separate ambulances, each from a different nearby fire protection district. All three were billed different amounts for the same services. Dula’s injuries were the least serious, but his bill was the most expensive.

Even after Dula’s insurer paid $900, her bill from the Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District was still about double what each of her siblings had been charged.

Dula’s attempts to resolve the bill were unsuccessful.

Paramedic Billing Services, the company that handles billing for Pingree Grove, said it would have to dispute the charges directly with the fire protection district. But Dula said she was unable to reach a representative from the fire district by phone. Then, in June, he received a letter from the collection agency Wakefield & Associates requesting payment of the ambulance bill.

Dula remained determined not to pay until the price was lowered to be more in line with what her brothers had been charged. But the collection agency was just as firm. And there was the bill for months, deadlocked.

Last week, Dula called the hospital she was transported to after the accident. She had recently received a bill from the hospital that said she owed almost $1,500, but when she called she was told her balance was zero. The surprise resolution of her hospital bill prompted her to call Wakefield & Associates to verify the ambulance bill. She said she was told that her bill had been withdrawn from collections and that her balance was zero.

The apparent resolution came about a month after Cover of “CBS Mornings” Dula’s Bill of the Month Saga. Wakefield & Associates confirmed to KHN that the invoice had been withdrawn and that its balance with the agency is zero. Pingree Grove Fire Chief Kieran Stout did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“It feels great,” Dula said. “It was a real monkey on my back.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces detailed journalism on health issues. Along with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the top three operating programs in KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization that provides information on health issues to the nation.

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