Back from collecting the $2,700 ambulance bill

Peggy Dula is as surprised as she is relieved. The 55-year-old resident of St. Charles, Illinois, had been struggling with a $2,700 ambulance bill for nearly a year. Now, the amount she owes from the September 2021 car wreck appears to be zero.

This summer, KHN, NPR, and CBS News spotlighted Dula in the Bill of the Month series. Dula’s initial $3,600 charge for the ambulance ride was significantly higher than the charges received by her two siblings, who were riding in her car at the time and were transported to the same hospital. The siblings rode in separate ambulances, each from a different nearby fire protection district. All three were billed different amounts for the same service. 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 Districts was still double what each of her siblings charged.

Dula’s efforts to resolve the bill failed.

Paramedic Billing Services, the company that handles billing for Pingree Grove, said it must dispute the charges directly with the fire protection district. However, Dula said that the district representative of the fire department could not be found on the phone. Then, in June, he received a letter from collection agency Wakefield & Associates demanding payment for his ambulance bill.

Dula was determined not to pay in line with his siblings’ complaints until the price was lowered. But the collection agency was equally firm. And there the bill remained in limbo for months.

Last week, Dula called the hospital where he was taken after the accident. She recently received a bill from the hospital saying she owed about $1,500, but when she called she was told her balance was zero. The surprising resolution of his hospital bill prompted him to call Wakefield & Associates to check his ambulance bill. He said he was told the bill had been withdrawn from collection and his balance was zero.

The apparent resolution came nearly a month after “CBS Mornings” covered the Duel Bill of the Month saga. Wakefield & Associates confirmed to KHN that the bill has been returned and its balance with the agency is zero. Pingree Grove Fire Chief Kieron Stout did not return multiple requests for comment.

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

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