If you are hurt after an accident, you may be left wondering how you get treatment for your injuries without paying for them up front. Money can be scarce after an accident, especially if you are left not being able to go back to work. There are many ways to get your medical bills paid for. There is no one size fits all solution to this problem. Different factors may make one strategy useful for some cases while not being useful for others.
The first, and most obvious, thing you could do is have your health insurance cover your bills for you. Not all bills are covered by health insurance, but some might be. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for the co-pay owed. The good news is that you should be able to get reimbursed for this expense when the accident settles. If your co-pay is a significant amount of money you cannot afford, it may be worth calling the medical provider and asking for an extension of time to pay the co-pay until the injury case settles. Most providers will accommodate this request if it is done in a timely manner.
The second thing you could do is look at your car insurance policy to see if you have “medical payments coverage.” This is not required coverage in Missouri. If you have it, you will be able to use it to pay for your medical bills up to the designated amount on the policy. They usually write medical payments benefits for either $1,000 or $5,000. In either event, it is important to remember that your insurance rates will not go up for using it. You will be also be able to use the Medical Payments coverage of the driver if you are injured as a passenger, no matter who was at fault.
The third thing you could do is search for treatment with medical providers that offer care on a “lien” basis. Usually chiropractors and pain management clinics offer such treatment. Providers that utilize medical liens are a great resource for injured claimants. They allow claimants access to treatment quickly and easily. These providers allow you to receive treatment at no up-front cost to you; even if you do not have health insurance. As you receive treatment, the medical provider will not attempt to bill you every time you come in for a visit. Instead your bill will be paid directly from your bodily injury settlement. The medical provider will enforce their right to be paid from the settlement by submitting a “lien” to the insurance company of the party that caused the accident. A lien is a legal distinction that provides for priority payment of a debt from a settlement.
The lien laws for medical providers in Missouri are very friendly to claimants, capping the amount they can recover from your settlement. This way they don’t take too much of any potential settlement, a fear commonly voiced by potential clients. Medical lien holders are limited to recovering one half the amount remaining of the settlement after attorney’s fees. Once they receive final payment under the lien law, even if for less than the full amount owed, they can no longer try to go after the claimant for any balance remaining.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find a medical provider that accept liens. A lot of specialty doctors in the Saint Louis area bill through treating physicians’ groups. To my knowledge there are no treating physicians’ groups that provide treatment on a lien basis. All instead work with health insurance. This means that personal injury victims may not have ready access to specialists such as neurologists or orthopedists if their health insurance does not cover them.
The fourth option is obtaining advance funding for your medical expenses from a third party. There are businesses out that will lend you the money to get certain procedures done after the accident. This loan will be secured by placing a lien against your case, like the method used by medical providers discussed earlier. You must only repay the loan if the case settles. This option is likely only available if you have a high value procedure that needs done and fault for your case has already been decided. The loan company will require a lot of information to make sure that your case is worth the risk to lend money on.
With all personal injury settlements, the insurance company settlement should eventually cover all your medical expenses. The trick is getting the expenses covered before the settlement arrives. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at (314)-222-0066 to discuss your situation.