I am going to apologize in advance for yet another post dealing with health care costs.  When I started writing this blog I thought I would be leaning more towards a “helpful hints” website.  So far I have been on my soap box and I am afraid this post will deal once again with costs.  You do have my promise that my very next post will include resources to help you.

This being said, I wanted to share something with you.  Now, I live in the state of New York and I would like to know if this is a New York thing or if this happens everywhere.  My Grandmother passed away.  She was 92 so she lived a good long life and she died in her sleep.  My mother got a call from Grandma’s cleaning lady that she had found her in bed and that she was deceased.

Mom has medical experience so she checked for vitals, the body was cool to the touch, Grandma was obviously gone.  Mom called the funeral home to have them send transport and then she finally got through to the doctor to report the death.  The doctor’s office told Mom that in New York since it was an unattended death, she still needed to call emergency services.   And for that, we received a bill for a $600 ambulance ride a couple of months later.  According to a guy I know that is in the limousine business, we could have taken Grandma for a rather luxurious ride for most of the day for that amount of money!

Now I am going to explain what kills me about this entire thing.  Grandma never was transported anywhere in an ambulance!!!  Mom called the non-emergency number to the fire department since obviously we were way past any life-saving heroics.  The fire department told us to call 911—ridiculous right?   Three firemen and the assistant district attorney showed up and grilled Mom regarding Grandma’s health status, medications, etc. even though Mom told them that the doctor, which, by the way, had his office across the street, had been notified and would complete the death certificate. So now we have three firemen standing there saying, “Yep she’s dead” and an ADA waiting for the coroner to call back and give the OK to let Grandma’s personal physician sign the death certificate.  She was 92 for god’s sake.  We can laugh about it now. But it was not funny then.

When the bill was forwarded from my Grandmother’s old address, Mom thought this must be an error.  She called the city and was told that this was perfectly legal in New York and the Medicare would pay most of the cost.  Sure enough, the city submitted it to Medicare and all but $75 was paid.  I still think this was fraudulent billing to Medicare.  THERE WAS NO AMBULANCE TRANSPORT!  She was transported by the funeral home.

Maybe it shouldn’t, but this still bothers me.  We spend so much on healthcare and we are constantly being told that Medicare cannot continue to keep up with costs.  We hear about providers committing Medicare and Medicaid fraud and going to jail.  Where is this any different?  On the other hand, to whom would you report something like this?  I guess the bigger question is how many other things are being billed to Medicare and other healthcare insurances that did not actually happen.

If you have any thoughts, let me know.