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Utah couple gets hit with sky-high surprise air ambulance bill

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

HIGHLAND — It had been 18 months since Robert Ross had a stroke on vacation in Page, Arizona.

His wife, Lori, called for an ambulance, and he was taken to an area hospital. He didn't stay there long.

"They observed him for half an hour," she said, before the doctors decided he needed to be flown by air ambulance to a better-equipped hospital. "They tried to (fly) him to St. George, but because St. George was closed because of COVID and wouldn't admit him, they (flew) him to Provo."

Robert Ross recovered. Then the bills came.

At first, the air ambulance bill for the ride from Page, Arizona, to Provo cost $89,770.

The Ross' insurance, Cigna, paid a portion. Lori Ross appealed for more to be paid, but the air ambulance company continued to send bills — this time for $12,995.

While significantly cheaper than the initial bill, Lori Ross told KSL Investigators she shouldn't have had to pay anything — she had met her out-of-pocket max for 2020, and therefore her insurance should pay 100% of the bill.

She said Cigna seemed to agree with her, but she'd spent months trying to get them to pay the remaining balance.

"I have called them. They say, 'Oh yes, this is a mistake, we need to send it back through,'" she explained. "Then I'll call a month later ... but it's not being taken care of."

For Lori Ross the solution seemed easy: "Just pay this bill and let me get on and quit worrying about it."

KSL Investigators reached out to Cigna on her behalf through their media relations spokesperson. In an email statement, the spokesperson said the air ambulance was "not a Cigna-contracted provider," but that her claim had finally been "corrected/reprocessed," leaving her with "ZERO payment responsibility."

Cigna's spokesperson said the air ambulance company, Classic Lifeguard, "is the one that billed the customer." Our emails to Classic Lifeguard requesting comment on the situation were not returned.

The Affordable Care Act made it federal law that emergency situations should be processed by insurance companies as in-network services.

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Matt Gephardt
Matt Gephardt has worked in television news for more than 20 years, and as a reporter since 2010. He is now a consumer investigative reporter for KSL TV. You can find Matt on Twitter at @KSLmatt or email him at
Cindy St. Clair


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