The air transport company, which operates under three different names in the Southwest, is the subject of as many as six class action lawsuits nationally over allegations of overpricing. In
The local woman, who asked not to be identified, said she also contacted the
"I had a heart attack in February (2016), went to the emergency room (at LCMC). They did an exam and told me that I needed to go to a cath lab (for a stent)," the local woman said. "They called around and I was told that all the cath labs in
Because she has New Mexico Health Connection medical insurance,
"I have the silver plan, which covers flight with a deductible of
She signed something when she was put into the fixed wing plane, she said. In
The woman said her insurance paid her surgery and hospital fees and everything but her deductible, even though the procedure was performed out of network, because it was necessary and nowhere within network was available.
"But when it came to the fight service, I started getting bills for
"At first the insurance company denied it. I appealed and then they paid
She appealed for insurance to cover the rest of the bill, but was denied, then appealed again.
"We had a hearing. (insurance) had eight representatives there. They told me they thought the (bill) amount was outrageous and they have tried in the past to negotiate with this company and there is no negotiating with them. They had no interest in getting into network, because they know they can go after the patient for way above and beyond what the insurance would pay," the woman said.
"I called the (air transport) carrier back and asked them if they would be willing to negotiate with my insurance company and they said sure. But my insurance company didn't call them again and I have a feeling they wouldn't have negotiated much."
She said she called the air transport company one more time and asked, "Where do we go from here?
"They said we could negotiate this fee down some, but you need to send us some financial records, bank statements and that sort of thing," the woman said. "I said give me a week to check. I looked them up and found out they have been all over the news (on major networks) basically for extreme collection processes to collect from patients after the insurance has been paid to them already and that this is a very common practice."
"Because of the deregulation of air fares, it is not illegal for them to charge whatever they want," the woman said. "But there is some sort of stopping point at
"Then they wanted to know what I could pay and I said,
The next question from the
"If it is so well known they are outrageous with their fees, and they have this horrid reputation with their collection processes, why are they being called and was anybody else called?" she asked. "I called the hospital and asked them those two questions.
She said she received a call back that the hospital chief of staff wrote a letter insisting the flight was necessary, but that wasn't her question. "I asked who was called and who made the call," she said, claiming she was told that person had left and there was no record of it.
"I've spent some time in the hospital and there is a record of everything," the woman said. "That just didn't sit well with me."
Responding to a request for information about the hospital's policy on arranging medical flights, officials at LCMC sent a statement pointing out that the LCMC is a critical access facility that serves
"At LCMC, we are committed to patient safety, which is why patients needing a higher level of care may be transported to a more appropriate facility. Depending on how quickly a response is needed, LCMC generally calls the closest transport company available. Transport may be provided by ambulance or air depending on the severity of a patient's condition and proximity of the appropriate facility. It is our understanding that emergency services are generally covered by insurance companies regardless of network participation."
The local woman/patient said she received another letter from LCMC saying that
She filed a grievance with the state attorney general and heard back by phone within three days, she said. "They said that they have checked on the company and (
While Rocky Mountain is no longer a recognized corporation in
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