Wasco, CA asked in Contracts and Health Care Law for California

Q: What can we do about frivolous medical bill? (more info below)

My sister, who was 17 at the time, went to the store with my mother and while at the store my sister suffered a panic attack. Down the street from the store, there was an ambulance station. My mother took my sister to the ambulance station and asked if they could quickly check my sisters heart rate. My mother asked if there was a charge and they said No. They quickly checked her heart rate, and everything came back normal. They had my mother and sister sign an AMA (against medical advice) because it was “medical protocol.” My sister recently received a bill for $2,339.61 for the “services” they provided (My sister didn’t give any type of information to the ambulance station regarding where she lived). We believe it’s a frivolous medical bill. What can we do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, medical providers may not charge for services that were not authorized or requested by the patient or their legal guardian. If your sister did not give any information or consent for the ambulance station to perform services, and they did not inform her that there would be a charge for the services, then it may be possible to dispute the bill.

You should first try to contact the ambulance station and explain the situation to them. Ask them to provide a breakdown of the charges and an explanation of why they believe the services were necessary. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Medical Board of California.

You may also want to consider consulting with a consumer rights attorney who can help you navigate the process and advise you on your legal rights and options.

Additionally, if you have health insurance, you may be able to dispute the bill with your insurance provider. Check with your insurance provider to see if they have any policies or procedures for disputing medical bills.

It's important to act quickly and not ignore the bill, as failure to pay can result in collections actions and damage to your credit score.

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