7 On Your Side: Fine Print Clarifies East Texan's Ambulance Charge

"I always feel like if I need the service it would be there and that was the only reason I had it," says Leon Gossett of Tyler.

He's talking about his ETMC EMS membership.  It was this past May when he came down with food poisoning and called 911.

"I just lost all my oxygen to my body and I couldn't breathe. So my wife called an ambulance and they came and picked me up and they transferred me to the hospital and from that point that's where we are now," Gossett explain.

He's is talking about the $400 bill he got in the mail.  One he was not expecting after seeing EMS membership commercials run on TV.

"Because as little as $60 covers all qualified members of your household for a full year of medically necessary ambulance transports," says the announcer in the television ad.

Gossett adds, "My understanding from that commercial, that I watched time and time again, there are no extra added expense out of your pocket if you're a member of ETMC [EMS Service]."

In a written statement ETMC says, "The nature of television advertising does not afford the opportunity to present all the details of EMS membership. They go on to say the brochure/application is explicit in all details regarding membership."

That's where we found the membership rules clearly explained:

EMS members with insurance get all their transports covered. But they will pay a 60% reduced fee for transports not covered by their insurance.  That totals, on average, $384.

EMS members without insurance will also pay a 60% reduced fee for all transports.

Which, in Gossett's case, explains why he got this bill because at the time he requested the service he didn't have insurance.

"So join ETMC EMS for as little as $60 and get the peace of mind that comes from knowing you won't have another unplanned medical expense," the commercial also says.

Gossett adds, "If I owe it I want to pay it."

Reading the application rules Gossett does owe the bill.

But ETMC tells KLTV, "While we feel our membership advertising is clear, we elected to refund Mr. Gossett's expenses. This action was on our part was simply an attempt to retain a loyal customer's goodwill, not because we were at fault."

It's an end result Mr. Gossett appreciates.

And regardless the outcome, his loyalty to the program never wavered. He has since renewed his membership for the 2007-08 year.

Again, a signature is required on the application to sign up for the EMS membership. That's where it explains in detail how the program works.

You can also click here to find an explanation on ETMC's website.

Christine Nelson, Reporting cnelson@kltv.com