Cihat Tekin spends about 40 hours a week doing detective work, "I pick up the phone, I call the insurance company, try and figure out what's going on, I go online, try and figure out their insurance information online."
Tekin is the Deputy Operations Chief for Irondequoit Ambulance. He spends hours sifting through a mound of paperwork, trying to collect more than $100,000 owed to the company, "it really is a lot of work," explained Tekin. He also says the time could be better spent, "administrative tasks, better scheduling," said Tekin, "the amount of time and money involved in trying to recoup these funds could be better spent literally on training, equipment, supplies."
Unpaid bills are a growing problem in the ambulance industry, "people are so used to the insurance company taking care of it," said Tekin, "we get a lot of the, 'well I have Blue Cross Blue Shield, I have, you know, one of the best insurance companies out there, they should've taken care of it.'"
Ambulance services are considered out of network by most insurance companies, meaning they won't pay the ambulance company directly, "it's usually in the envelope you get that says, 'this is not a bill,'" explained Tekin, "somewhere in there is a check for you, and that check is meant to reimburse you for your medical costs."
Most people don't realize that's how the payment works. Tekin says that leaves him to do the legwork to settle the bill. Eventually the growing pile of debt could drive up costs for ambulance services, "just like any business out there the people that have the primary insurance providers, that pay the bills, the payments have to go up, the bills have to go up, to kind of make up for those that aren't paying," explained Tekin.