02-02-2021 Car Accidents Personal Injury Protection
Getting Medical Bills Paid
One of the key parts of my job is helping my clients to manage their medical bills after a car crash. My goal is to help take some of the stress off of the client during their recovery.
Myth: the other driver's insurance will pay for my medical bills.
It's not a total myth, they will pay, but not right away, not when you really need them to. Most importantly, healthcare providers cannot simply bill the other driver's insurance. The other insurance company will have to pay your medical bills, but only as a part of the final settlement of your case. This settlement often comes months or years after the bills are actually incurred. So it doesn't help you right away.
Strategies for Handling Medical Bills:
- PIP Insurance: This is a coverage you many drivers carry on their own auto insurance. You can read more about PIP on my previous blog post.
- Health Insurance: The next best option is to use your own health insurance if you have it. The interaction of health insurance and car crashes could easily be the subject of its own entire post. But just know that if you have health insurance you should use it. Unfortunately, health insurance often comes with limits of rehabilitative medicine such as physical therapy that are most common after a car crash. You are also stuck with your deductible, co-pays, and co-insurance. But at least you will get that money back when you do settle your case. At the very least, submitting your bills to health insurance usually means there is an adjustment to the total due that results in you paying less overall.
- Self-Pay: If you don't have health insurance (or haven't met your deductible) then the next best option is usually to pay out of your own pocket. This is not always possible, but if you can I usually tell my clients to pay the bills. They will get their money back at the end of the case and it's better than having the bills sit and potentially collect interest or be sent to collections.
- Statutory Lien: Washington law gives medical providers the right to place a lien on your eventual insurance recovery for the amount of their bill. This can be beneficial to both parties because the patient gets treatment and the medical provider gets a guarantee of payment. However, there are costs to the file the lien and the medical provider cannot recover more than 25% of the total settlement. In my experience, this law is rarely used by medical providers.
- Promise to pay from settlement/Letter of Guarantee: In lieu of a lien, many medical providers will simply have their patients sign a contract promising payment from their eventual settlement. There are limits to this approach as well. But as long as the bill is not accruing interest, this can be an advantageous arrangement. As an attorney, I can help set this kind of arrangement up. You should always speak to an attorney before agreeing to something like this because there can be significant drawbacks. I typically do not recommend something like this unless my clients have no other