One of the first challenges and questions is how to properly pay for accident-related medical care. Ambulance services are often not covered by health insurance, and EMS providers are also aggressive bill collectors. Also, while hospitals will bill for services, follow-up care providers typically want payment first before they agree to see you. The following payment options should be considered as you seek clinical care for all injuries:
At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance
This is actually the last source of payment for medical care. We consider it first to confront the most common mistake made by innocent accident victims. Many people resist using their personal health insurance and instead try to insist that the at-fault driver’s car insurance should be paying for all medical care. While this is legally true in the long run, liability coverage never pays for medical bills along the way. They will not receive and pay bills from providers, and they will not reimburse you for bills as they are incurred. Rather, they pay for total medical bills only at time of settlement. They also challenge most charges and typically refuse to pay a significant share of the total bills.
Do not present medical bills to the liability adjuster until all medical care is concluded. The options discussed below are truly the only sources for payment of medical charges during the course of ongoing treatment and recovery. Later in the chapter, we discuss how and when to properly present medical bills and other injury evidence to the insurance carriers who provide liability insurance for all parties who caused your accident.
Private Health Insurance
If you have personal health insurance, whether it is employer provided or privately purchased, you should use this coverage to pay for all medical needs. Hospitals often resist using health insurance because they hope to receive a larger payment by waiting to take a share of your injury claim proceeds. They should be pushed to file for health insurance payments. If you have legal representation, your lawyers should help you with this step. Health insurance is no-fault coverage. Thus, they pay medical expenses regardless of how you became ill. Using your health coverage opens doors, provides access to a network of medical experts, such as orthopedic surgeons and neurologists, and protects your personal credit.
When you collect money for your injuries, the health insurance carrier likely will have the right to be paid back from your settlement proceeds. Thus, please do not worry that your health insurance carrier is falling victim because of your accident. The presence of health insurance will be a tremendous asset as you seek to work with all doctors and specialists to recover your health.
The new Affordable Care Act (ACA) policies are another option for health coverage. Because the preexisting condition exclusion has been removed from all health insurance policies, you now have a right to purchase health coverage after an injury and then use this new policy to pay for health care. These policies will have a right to share in your injury claim proceeds. Also, the discounts and medical charge contract adjustments they take on your medical bills will serve to reduce the medical bills you can collect through settlement or present to a jury at trial.