Peggy Dula is as surprised as she is relieved. The 55-year-old from St. Charles, Illinois, has been fighting a $2,700 emergency room bill for almost a year. Now the amount she owes for the car accident in September 2021 looks like zero.

this summer, Spotlight on KHN, NPR and CBS News Dula in the “Poster of the Month” series. The initial $3,600 charge for Doula’s ambulance ride was significantly higher than the charges for her two siblings who were in her car at the time and were taken to the same hospital. The siblings traveled in separate ambulances, each from a different neighboring fire district. All three were billed different amounts for the same services. Doula’s injuries were the least serious, but her bill was the most expensive.

Even after Dula’s insurer paid $900, her bill from the Pingry Grove and Rural Fire Protection District was still roughly double that of each of her siblings.

Dula’s attempts to resolve the bill were unsuccessful.

Paramedic Billing Services, the company that bills Pingree Grove, said it will have to dispute the charges directly with the fire district. But Dula said she was unable to reach a fire department representative. Then, in June, she received a letter from the debt collection agency Wakefield & Associates asking her to pay the ambulance bill.

Peggy Dula reviews her medical bills
After Peggy Dula rode in an ambulance after a car accident and was evaluated in the emergency room, the taxpayer-funded municipal fire department billed $3,606 for the treatment.

Bram Sable-Smith/KHN

Dula remained determined not to pay until the price was lowered to more closely match what her siblings were charging. But the collection agency was just as adamant. And here the bill stood for months, at a standstill.

Last week, Dula called the hospital where she was taken after the wreck. She recently received a bill from the hospital that said she owed almost $1,500, but when she called, she was told the balance was zero. An unexpected decision on her hospital bill prompted her to call Wakefield & Associates to check on her ambulance bill. She said she was told the account had been withdrawn from collections and her balance was zero.

The obvious solution came about a month later “CBS Mornings” cover. Doula’s Bill of the Moon saga. Wakefield & Associates confirmed to KHN that the account has been revoked and that its balance with the agency is zero. Pingree Grove Fire Chief Kieran Stout did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“It’s great,” Dula said. “It was a real monkey on my back.”

Bill of the month is a crowdsourced investigation KHN and NPR which analyzes and explains medical bills. Have an interesting medical bill you’d like to share with us? Tell us about it!

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Along with policy analysis and surveying, KHN is one of the three main operating programs in the KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a non-profit organization that provides health information to the nation.