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Despite payment, fee for ambulance keeps growing

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,238,609

Updated: August 3, 2012 6:10AM



D ear Fixer: On May 31, 2011, I became ill and had to take an ambulance to the hospital. I never received a bill for this service. I did receive the hospital bill, which I paid promptly.

Seven months later, on Dec. 31, 2011, I received a phone call from a collections agency, saying that I owed $850 to the City of Chicago for the ambulance. I explained to them that I had never received a bill. They told me they had also sent me notices in the mail, but I never received those either. Not wanting this to affect my credit negatively, I paid them online that same day with my credit card.

It took over a month to show up, but finally my account was considered paid in full. I thought the hard part was over and now all I had to do was file a claim with my insurance company to be reimbursed.

On Feb. 6, I sent my claim to Aetna. But they said it was missing some codes. The Aetna representative called Chicago’s EMS staff to obtain the codes. But the city told Aetna that my account was closed and they’d have to reopen it to send the codes.

Later, I found out that instead of sending Aetna the codes, the city sent in a claim for the whole bill. Aetna received their claim, processed it and sent the city $652.

So now, the city has been paid $850 by me and $652 by Aetna — a total of  $1,502 for an $850 bill.

Even worse, the city then sent me a bill saying I owe them the difference between the $850 bill and Aetna’s payment of $652. That’s right. Not only have they been paid $1,502 for an $850 bill, but now they want more from me.

I have been trying to straighten this out since March. I’ve been told the city has frozen my account and I won’t get any more bills, but I am extremely worried they are going to send me to collections for something I have already paid.

The city knows they owe me money. I just want the $652 that should have been paid to me by Aetna as reimbursement for my out-of-pocket expense.

Carol Davis, Chicago

Dear Carol: Never fear, The Fixer is here!

We totally understand why you wouldn’t want to donate any more of your money to the city’s ambulance fund. And now you won’t have to.

We found a sympathetic soul in the mayor’s press office, who got this fixed in a jiffy. Within a few days we got word that they had found your $652. They are due to process the refund today to your credit card. Let us know if you have any more problems.

Save on air conditioning this summer

The Fixer fled South Florida in 1995, largely because of the summers. Florida summers are a truly horrible thing. We especially hated that thick wall of humidity that would thwack you across the face every time you stepped outside.

But we gotta say, it’s been a bit too South Florida-y in Chicago this summer. If you are worried that our sticky weather will translate into unbearable air conditioning bills, we suggest you check out CUBEnergySaver.com, the free online savings tool offered by the nonprofit Citizens Utility Board.

CUB says participants have shaved an average of $130 from their electric bills each year, all while earning points for retail store discounts and helping the environment.

CUB also just announced two upcoming free workshops for consumers:

◆ 1 p.m. July 10 at the Romeoville White Oak Library, 201 W. Normantown Rd., Romeoville.

◆ 6 p.m. July 12 at the DuPage Township Levy Center, 241 Canterbury Lane, Bolingbrook.

For more info, check out CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

Who’s your most obnoxious customer?

Is it the distracted cellphone talker? The parents who let their kids run wild in the restaurant? The cheapskate who takes all your ideas but never buys your product? We’re still looking for tales from front-line retail workers, waitresses, service people, smal-business owners and others about their most memorably obnoxious customers. Please email them to soundoff@suntimes.com. Thanks!



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