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'We pay so much into insurance.' Colorado Springs family whose sons were shot handed a $58,000 helicopter bill

A family got a $58,379.53 helicopter bill after their son had to be airlifted to another hospital for emergency surgery after a shooting.
Posted at 7:23 PM, Nov 04, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's been nearly one year since a shooting at Memorial Park Skatepark left one man and one child dead, plus another child fighting for his life.

"It seems like it's been longer than a year, based on the frustrations," said Ray Celano, referring to the fact that no arrests have ever been made for the shooting.

Celano lost his 14-year-old son, Dominic, his 23-year-old nephew, Gage, and nearly lost his 12-year-old son, who was shot five times.

It wasn't until recently the Celanos began getting notices of an overdue bill.

"I started getting these weird text messages that says your bill is due," said Celano.

That bill turned out to be a $58,379.53 bill from an air ambulance company, CALSTAR, for his 12-year-old's 63 mile flight from Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs to Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

The Celanos' insurance initially covered $7,832.71 of the original $66,212.24 bill, saying the chopper used was out of network, leaving the Celanos with the remainder to pay.

"I mean, I lost two members of my family, and one survived barely, and then just throw a bill at us like that? It just to me doesn't make any sense. I mean, we pay so much into insurance," said Celano.

When we reached out for an interview, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield told us in-part:

"Many air ambulance providers choose not to contract with insurers. That is why Anthem has been a strong advocate for the federal No Surprises Act, which went into effect earlier this year."
Emily Snooks, Director of Public Relations (CO & MO), Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield

The parent company for CALSTAR, REACH Air Medical Services, says that is a "myth" and the company has "moved from 5% in-network to 70% in-network over the past 7 years."

After News5 reached out to the companies, they came to an agreement on the cost of the helicopter ride and the insurance company will be taking care of all of it.

The Celanos will not have to pay for any of the bill out of pocket.

Anthem issued a statement reading:

This was a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to Mr. Celano and his family. We are glad we could help negotiate a reduced fee with this provider and we hope Mr. Celano’s family can continue their healing process.
Emily Snooks, Director of Public Relations (CO & MO), Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield

REACH stated in-part, "We never want patients to worry about whether their insurance provider will pay a claim. We have long advocated to take them out of the middle of these disputes, and we’re pleased with this recent outcome."
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