Man stuck with $43K bill after being airlifted, insurance says it wasn’t ‘medically necessary’

A Lincolnton man who was airlifted to a hospital following a car accident says his insurance wouldn’t cover the expense.

Stanley Mull says he was driving along Startown Road in Lincoln County when a driver cut in front of him to get to a gas station.

“I didn’t have a chance to slow down or nothing,” Mull said.

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The damage to the front of his truck made it look like an accordion and the inside was stuffed with deployed airbags.

“I thought I was OK, but my daughter showed up, my youngest daughter, and she said, ‘Dad, you’re going to the emergency room,’” he said.

Mull went to the ER where they ran tests “and discovered I was bleeding internally,” he said.

Mull says the doctors had him airlifted to Winston-Salem. “I had no input on that decision whatsoever. That was strictly the doctors’ call,” he said.

Even if he did have input, “My family would have said yes, and I would have said yes.”

He says the other driver was at fault so her insurance should have covered his injuries. But Mull says she didn’t have enough coverage, so it fell on his insurance, BlueCross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

“I thought that everything would have been taken care of,” he said. But it wasn’t.

BlueCross denied the claim twice. It viewed the flight as “non medically necessary.”

Mull had to pay $43,427.

“You work and work and work, and that kind of money is hard to come by,” he said.

Desperate, he asked Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke for help. Stoogenke emailed BlueCross and had Mull sign a privacy release so the company could discuss his case with Action 9. It told Stoogenke Mull’s claim was going through the appeals process and fewer than two weeks later, Mull says he got a letter, saying BlueCross reviewed its policies, overturned its denial, and now deemed his flight medically necessary.

“We’re always happy to help our members navigate the appeals process,” the company emailed Action 9.

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Stoogenke says to remember that you always have the right to refuse an ambulance or air ambulance. The problem is you may not be conscious or have time to weigh your options. So, if you’re shocked by a medical bill, any medical bill:

- Realize medical bills aren’t always final.

- Don’t be afraid to challenge your bill.

- Do what Mull did and be persistent.

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