UPDATE: Valley man remains stuck with $1,500 fire department bill

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by Gary Harper

Bio | Email | Follow: @GaryHarper3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on October 19, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 19 at 8:54 AM

PHOENIX -- You may remember Dan Andersen. Just looking at his injuries feels painful.

He suffered broken bones and internal injuries when he was travelling down an East Valley road, lost control and wound up wrapping his small car around a fire hydrant.

"Well, I was in a daze for a brief period of time and you know just trying to figure out where I was," Andersen told 3 On Your Side as he recounted the accident.

Because the crash scene was in Rural Metro Fire Department's area, they responded and used the Jaws of Life™ to rip open Andersen's car and pull him out.

But after they did, Rural Metro sent Andersen a bill for $1,500, a bill his car insurance and his medical insurance refuse to pay.

"It's $1,500 for the motor vehicle extracation, which was them cutting me out of the vehicle," he said.

Since that report first aired, 3 On Your Side has now learned why Andersen is getting stuck with that bill.

American Family Insurance told us it would have paid the $1,500 bill if Andersen would have had medical coverage on his policy. However, he didn't.

So, I contacted Andersen's health insurance, Aetna, and gave them time to investigate.

They looked into the matter and in an email to me, said they can't pay the bill because it was not for "medical treatment."

In addition, no "medical code" exists for Jaws of Life™ and a code is required by the American Medical Association for all billing and payments.

Andersen can't believe it, saying, "I have insurance, I pay for it and in the end this is not part of their coverage on either side."

Finally, here's the third reason why Andersen is stuck with that bill. Rural Metro is a private company that depends on subscriptions, not tax money, to operate.

Unfortunately, Andersen said he never paid the nearly $500 annual subscription because he thought he would never need services from Rural Metro. He said it's a learning lesson.

In the meantime, let's say you don't live in Rural Metro's response area. There's no reason to subscribe then, right?

Well, technically, that's true. However, if you are simply driving through their response area
and you have a collision, you will probably get a bill just like Andersen did.

Again, they're a private company that receives zero revenue or income from municipal taxes.
 

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