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Who Pays My Medical Bills in a Car Accident?

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When I speak to a client shortly after they are involved in a crash, “Who pays my medical bills?” is a common question asked by many. It is significant for your health and the value of your case. Receive all the necessary medical treatment and start your treatment as soon as possible after a crash. To obtain medical treatment in a timely fashion, you initially recommend using your health insurance. This applies to the ambulance service, emergency department, hospitalization, urgent care treatment, and visits with your primary care physician, then consult with an experienced injury attorney to discuss your future medical treatment and your payment options.   

There are several ways to reduce your medical treatment costs and maximize your financial recovery based on your particular situation. The following are some of the options which to consider in your case. 

Medical payments coverage

Medical payments coverage is an option on most personal automobile insurance plans. It is highly recommended that you purchase medical payments coverage and, if so, it is important to make medical payments demand as soon as possible following your initial treatment. Your insurance company should be instructed to pay the medical payment benefits to you and not to the healthcare providers. In Missouri, medical payments coverage is a type of no-fault insurance paid no matter who caused the crash, up to the limits purchased. It is common for motorists to purchase $1,000 in medical payments coverage; however, you should speak to your insurance agent about raising your medical payment limits to $5,000, $10,000, or more, if possible. 

Medical payments coverage can be used to pay your deductible or co-pay requirements and is relatively inexpensive. Do not expect your insurance agent to offer this coverage, and you typically must ask for it. It is one of the best values in the insurance market. 

Medical payments coverage

Private health insurance such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, United Healthcare, and Cigna, along with Medicaid and Medicare will pay your covered medical treatment under your plan documents. Typically, your health insurance will pay the bills at a much lower rate than the retail “billed” rate charged by the healthcare providers. By using your health insurance, you can significantly lower the overall medical bills. However, most plans are required to be paid back if you collect from a third party. Be sure to consult with an experienced injury attorney who can verify any potential subrogation claim and possibly reduce the amount required to pay back to your health insurance carrier, which can save you a significant amount of money.

Liens

In some situations, your attorney may have recommendations for you to see healthcare providers who will provide necessary medical treatment without you pulling any money out of your pocket for each visit or treatment session. Some select healthcare providers will agree to provide the treatment in exchange for placing a lien on any recovery. In those situations, you can obtain all the necessary medical treatment without any out-of-pocket payments. Once your matter is resolved, the healthcare provider is paid out of the recovery and possibly significantly reduced.

At-fault party liability insurance

The at-fault party may ultimately pay your medical bills if there is enough available insurance coverage. However, it may be years before the at-fault party settles your case or you obtain a judgment. You and your healthcare providers cannot and will not wait until that time. Also, the at-fault party’s insurance company is only obligated to pay up to their contractually agreed limits. In Missouri, the state minimum for liability and uninsured motorist coverage is $25,000, although you can voluntarily purchase significantly more coverage. 

Keep in mind:

  • There may not be sufficient automobile insurance limits to pay your medical bills; therefore, consult an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. 
  • In Missouri, if you get injured in a car crash, you have the right to choose your healthcare provider.  
  • The at-fault party or insurance carrier cannot limit your access to healthcare or direct your medical treatment. 

Further, your healthcare providers should not be billing the at-fault insurance carrier. All healthcare providers should be given your health insurance information and should be asked to timely bill their own health insurance company, including Medicare and Medicaid. Healthcare providers may incorrectly attempt to bill your Medical Payments provider or the at-fault party’s liability insurance company in an improper attempt to receive more money than they are contractually permitted to recover under your health insurance provider. \

Please consult with an experienced injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected and maximize your financial recovery.

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