Being involved in an accident is scary. Often, you will need to seek medical treatment for your injuries after the accident and the medical bills to treat your injuries can quickly add up. You may even consider putting off medical treatment until you figure out how your medical bills will get paid. While it is not a good idea to delay your medical treatment, there are several options to deal with medical bills while you receive treatment for your injuries.
Can the at-fault party pay for my medical bills up front or while I am seeking treatment?
You may wonder whether the at-fault party’s insurance carrier will pay your medical bills up front or will pay them while you are undergoing treatment. Generally, the at-fault party (or their insurance company) will not pay your medical bills up front or while you are still undergoing treatment. Personal injury victims often ask why the person who caused the accident (or their insurance company) cannot pay their bills. The answer is, if you get into an accident, you are responsible for the payment of your medical bills as you incur them. Even if the person who injured you is clearly at fault, the law does not require them to pay your medical bills as you incur them. The only thing the law requires is that, if the other person is at fault, he or she must pay you damages to resolve your claim and or lawsuit.
What should I do with my medical bills if the at-fault party won’t pay up front?
If you have healthcare insurance, you should use your health insurance to pay your medical expenses. You will likely have to reimburse your health insurance for a portion of what they paid for your medical bills. Your attorney can, in most cases, negotiate a reduction of what you must reimburse your healthcare insurance to maximize your settlement.
Health insurance can even cover your prescription costs.
If you do not have healthcare insurance, you may be able to seek treatment with an agreement to pay your medical provider out of your proceeds of your settlement or verdict. Some medical providers who treat accident victims know that many of their patients have no health insurance and will agree to treat the patient in return for the patient’s promise to pay the bills from the proceeds of their settlement or verdict. In this situation, the medical provider will have the patient sign a personal injury lien, which will be sent to the patient’s attorney. The lien is a binding contract between the patient and the medical provider and requires the attorney to pay the medical provider from the settlement or verdict before the patient/client receives any money from his or her case. In most cases, your attorney can negotiate a reduction of the lien. For more information on how a good attorney can reduce liens, visit our blog HERE.
What should I do when my medical provider refuses to bill my health insurance?
It is not uncommon for a medical provider to tell their patient that they cannot bill their healthcare insurance when the patient is seeking treatment for injuries related to a motor vehicle accident or other personal injury. When a medical provider is aware that a patient has a claim or pending lawsuit because of a personal injury, they often advise the patient that they cannot bill their healthcare insurance. The medical provider does so because they are trying to avoid the often substantial discounts that are typically applied to their bills when they are submitted to health insurance carriers.
In seeking medical treatment, you want to ensure that the medical provider is an approved provider by your healthcare insurance company and that they are an “in-network” provider. If the provider is approved and in network, this means that they have agreed to accept your healthcare insurance under contract, and they are required through that contract to bill your healthcare insurance company. You might need to remind the provider of this if they decline to bill your healthcare insurance.
The Illinois personal injury attorneys at John J. Malm & Associates can assist you by sending your medical provider a letter reminding them of their contractual obligation to bill your healthcare insurance. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an accident, contact personal injury attorney John Malm at John J. Malm & Associates to learn more about how you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.
About the Author: Marilynn Frangella is a trial lawyer with 22 years of experience in personal injury litigation. She has tried more than 100 personal injury cases to verdict. Marilynn represents clients in personal injury cases, including injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls (premises liability), products liability, and dog bites.