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Posted: February 12, 2008

Heart Attack Victim Hounded for $5 Co-Pay En Route to Hospital

When Barbara Antonelli, a 76-year-old widow from Staten Island, New York, went to her doctor complaining of chest pains, he diagnosed a heart attack and called 9-1-1.
Paramedics, who quickly arrived on the scene, placed Antonelli on a gurney, inserted a breathing tube, and were about to wheel her to the ambulance so she could be rushed to the hospital.
Discount Prescriptions
But not so fast.
The doctor's office receptionist told Antonelli she owed a $5 co-pay for the office visit, and she wasn't leaving until she paid.
At least, that's Antonelli's story, as told to the New York Daily News.
"You can't even get a book of stamps for that price. I was outraged,” she later fumed to the Daily News. "It was the most heartless, unthinkable thing to do. They were putting money on top of a person's life."
Antonelli, who is now recovering, says she had to rustle through her purse to find a $5 bill before she could head for the emergency room. "I could have dropped dead," she told the newspaper.
The Staten Island Physician Practice, the office where the incident occurred, isn't disputing the main elements of Antonelli's story. The doctor who called the ambulance said the overzealous receptionist would be reprimanded, but he would not divulge her name.
(Article courtesy of

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