A Brooklyn woman with a heart condition was on vacation in the Poconos over the summer when she had an episode and had to be taken to the hospital. She was sedated, and, while in that state, her heart doctor in Manhattan asked for her to be transported to his hospital -- so a medical helicopter picked her up and brought her there. Months after her recovery, she got a nearly $67,000 bill for the medical helicopter transport she never authorized.
Lori Rozany had gone to visit a friend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a relaxing weekend in July 2013. She complained of what felt like indigestion the night she arrived and went to an emergency room the next morning. Rozany, who was born with a hole in her heart, said she couldn't breathe. Medical records indicate she was experiencing tachycardia – or a rapid heart rate – when she was brought in.
Given her medical history, Rozany was especially concerned. She says she immediately gave the hospital staff the name and number of her cardiologist in New York. Medical records from the Pennsylvania hospital indicate Rozany was intubated and put on a ventilator.
Her recollection of that day ends with this: “I remember being moved from one bed to the other side of the emergency room for a chest X-ray. And that’s all I remember."
She woke up in New York.
"I remember hearing my doctor’s voice but I thought I was dreaming and obviously thought I was in Pennsylvania," Rozany says. She says she has no memory of the helicopter transport there.
Months later, Rozany got a bill from her insurer, UnitedHealthcare Oxford, for $66,747 for emergency air transport services that hadn't been preauthorized by the insurance company. Rozany's cardiologist appealed to the insurer, saying the air transport was medically necessary; her claim was denied three times.
After unsuccessfully fighting the huge bill for more than a year, Rozany asked NBC 4 New York's Better Get Baquero team for help. NBC 4 New York called UnitedHealthcare Oxford on behalf of Rozany and the insurer said it would investigate. A few weeks later, Rozany was informed the cost of the medical helicopter transport would be covered by insurance – in its entirety.
"We worked with the air transport company ... to reach a more agreeable rate. She will not be responsible for any additional costs," a UnitedHealthcare Oxford spokeswoman said. "We will continue to push back on excessive rates like the original air transport charge that drive up costs while unfairly burdening businesses and consumers."
Meanwhile, Rozany has gotten a pacemaker installed to help with her heart condition and feels much better. She says she's grateful for the medical care she received in both Pennsylvania and New York.
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