Dealing with medical bills after a personal injury accident can be extremely stressful. Payment for your care is often required upfront before you’ve received any compensation. This leaves many injury victims wondering how they will pay these mounting expenses while their case is still pending.
The goal of this article is to provide practical advice on how to handle medical bills before your personal injury case settles. We will explore options like negotiating with healthcare providers, assistance programs, insurance coverage, legal help, and maintaining detailed records.
- Seek guidance from a personal injury attorney
- Understand different options for covering bills
- Look into financial assistance programs
- Negotiate discounts and payment plans
- Use insurance if available
- Keep meticulous records of all bills and payments
- With the right steps, medical bills can be managed during a pending injury case
Following this advice can help you focus on recovery rather than stressing over unpaid medical expenses. We aim to give you the knowledge needed to make informed choices when faced with post-accident medical bills.
Seek Help From a Personal Injury Attorney
Why You Need an Attorney
Dealing with medical bills and insurance companies after an accident can feel like an uphill battle. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make all the difference. Here’s why their expertise is so critical:
- They can review your bills to determine if the charges are valid and reasonable. Oftentimes, providers bill excessively for accident victims. Your attorney can contest inappropriate fees.
- A personal injury attorney can investigate whether the accident was caused by another party’s negligence. If so, they may be responsible for your medical costs and other damages.
- Insurance adjusters represent the company’s interests, not yours. Your lawyer levels the playing field by negotiating firmly for fair compensation.
- The at-fault party’s insurance provider may initially deny your claim or offer an unreasonably low settlement. Skilled attorneys know how to effectively dispute low-ball offers.
- An experienced lawyer understands the full scope of damages you may be entitled to, including current and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses stemming from the accident.
- They can handle the legal complexities involved in a personal injury case, allowing you to focus on recovery.
Bottom line – a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help get you maximum compensation for medical bills and more. Don’t go it alone.
Your Attorney Can Put Medical Bills on Hold
One useful thing a personal injury attorney can do is get your medical bills put on hold while your case is pending. Here are two ways they make this possible:
- Your attorney can send letters to healthcare providers explaining your situation. Many will agree to delay billing until after a settlement is reached. This prevents the bills from being sent to collections in the meantime.
- If some providers refuse to pause billing, a letter from your attorney may prevent the accounts from being reported to credit agencies. This protects your credit score.
Having your medical bills frozen allows you to concentrate on healing rather than stressing overpayments. Your attorney can then negotiate payment of the full amounts owed as part of your injury settlement. With the right legal representation, you can avoid making payments for accident-related medical care until your case concludes.
Understand Options for Paying Medical Bills
If you have active health insurance coverage, this can help pay accident-related medical bills, but there are caveats:
- Insurance may only cover a portion of the total charges, leaving you to pay the remainder.
- Your provider may be out-of-network, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs.
- Any compensation from an injury settlement may need to be used to reimburse the insurance company for what they paid.
- There can be complex coordination of benefits rules if you have more than one policy.
While using health insurance provides some assistance, additional options may be needed to fully cover medical costs.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
If you were in an auto accident, your own auto policy likely includes PIP coverage. This pays medical expenses stemming from the crash up to the limit you chose.
- Payments are made quickly, without waiting for a liability decision.
- You don’t have to reimburse PIP payments from a settlement.
- Maximum payouts are low, often only $5,000 – $10,000.
- PIP doesn’t cover long-term care expenses.
So PIP provides fast help, but probably won’t satisfy all bills.
Many medical providers understand cash flow issues and will offer monthly payment plans. This allows you to pay what you can over time while your injury case proceeds. Be sure to ask for zero interest if possible.
As a last resort, personal loans from a bank provide a lump sum to pay medical bills immediately. However, high-interest rates make this option less than ideal. Only take a loan if absolutely needed before your case settles.
The best approach is exploring the various options and using a combination to fully cover medical costs as affordably as possible. Don’t hesitate to negotiate with providers for optimal payment terms.
Explore Assistance Programs
Medicaid or Other Government Assistance
Medicaid and other government health programs can provide coverage for accident-related medical expenses if you meet eligibility criteria.
- Medicaid is administered by each state, and criteria vary, but is based on low-income levels.
- Other needs-based programs like CHIP, Medicare Savings Programs, and VA Health Care may assist.
- Coverage applies to both current and ongoing future care related to the injury.
- The application process can be complex – your attorney or a social worker can help navigate.
Government assistance is useful because it shifts the burden of medical costs due to someone else’s negligence onto the public system. Just be sure to follow all rules around reporting any settlement received.
Hospital Charity Care
Non-profit hospitals are required to provide a certain amount of charity care each year to patients who can’t afford their bills.
- Charity care is generally determined on a sliding scale based on income and assets.
- The hospital’s billing department can provide details on how to apply.
- If approved, you may receive a full or partial discount on hospital charges.
- Well-documented financial hardship will help in the application.
Charity care programs don’t cover 100% of costs but can help reduce sky-high hospital bills after an accident.
Many major drug companies offer patient assistance programs, providing medications at no cost to those in financial need.
- Eligibility is based on factors like income, insurance status, and medical condition.
- Your doctor will need to complete paperwork to enroll you in the program.
- Once approved, you can receive ongoing prescription medications directly from the manufacturer.
Check with manufacturers of any expensive drugs prescribed to see if they offer an assistance program. This can significantly reduce medication costs while waiting for your injury claim to resolve.
Negotiate Cost Reductions
Request an Itemized Bill and Review for Errors
Never pay a medical bill without carefully reviewing an itemized statement first. Scrutinize each charge to spot overbilling, duplicate charges, and fees for care you didn’t receive.
- Compare itemized bills to your own records to verify accuracy.
- Watch for upcoming – billing at a more expensive rate than justified.
- Confirm you aren’t charged multiple times for the same test or treatment.
If errors exist, contact the billing department to request removal of incorrect charges. Oftentimes, providers will adjust an erroneous bill when presented with evidence. Don’t pay for services not actually provided.
Ask About Prompt Payment Discounts
Many healthcare providers offer discounts ranging from 10% to 20% if you pay your bill quickly, typically within 30 days.
- Inquire about prompt payment discounts when trying to settle a balance.
- Make sure discounted payment deadlines are realistic based on your situation.
- Get an offer in writing before submitting payment.
While prompt payment discounts require speedy payment, they can substantially reduce the amount owed.
See If They Offer “Self-Pay Discounts”
Uninsured patients often pay the highest rates, but you can negotiate this. Ask to pay the amount insured patients pay through contracted rates.
- Research typical insured rates for the services you received to support your request.
- Point out you have no leverage to negotiate prices as an individual.
- If one provider won’t budge, inquire with competitors about their self-pay discounts.
With persistence, you can often get a reasonable self-pay discount on medical bills, saving hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The bottom line is – don’t be afraid to question, negotiate, and push for the lowest feasible payment amounts. It can really pay off during this difficult time.
Maintain Detailed Records
Keep Copies of All Medical Bills and Correspondence
Carefully save paper or electronic copies of every medical bill, statement, and related correspondence you receive. This provides critical documentation when your attorney submits your settlement demand.
- Photograph or scan each bill to create a digital record.
- Save emails and postal mail from providers.
- Keep detailed notes on phone calls – date, person spoken to, summary.
- Maintain an organized filing system both digitally and physically.
Thorough medical bill documentation strengthens your case and ensures every expense is considered.
Organize Bills by Provider
Group all bills and statements from each individual medical provider together. This makes it easier to:
- Identify duplicate or erroneous charges.
- Track payments made toward a specific provider’s balances.
- Reference if you need to contact the provider.
- Verify all services from that provider are accounted for.
Keeping related bills bundled simplifies record keeping.
Note Communications with Providers
Log all conversations with medical providers, including payment plans, discounts negotiated, or other agreements. Important details to note:
- Date and method of communication
- Name and contact info of the representative
- Summary of discussion and terms agreed to
Contemporaneous notes demonstrate your efforts to resolve balances in good faith. This can help if any provider misrepresents communications later.
Thorough documentation takes effort but provides invaluable evidence and clarity regarding your outstanding medical expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a personal injury claim?
A: A personal injury claim refers to a legal case in which a person seeks compensation from another party for injuries or damages caused by their negligence or wrongdoing.
Q: How can I handle my medical bills after a personal injury?
A: There are several ways to handle medical bills after a personal injury. You can use your health insurance, medical payments coverage from your auto insurance, or seek assistance from a personal injury lawyer.
Q: Will my health insurance cover my medical bills after a personal injury?
A: In most cases, your health insurance will cover your medical bills after a personal injury. However, it is important to check the terms and conditions of your policy and notify your insurance company about the accident.
Q: Can a personal injury lawyer help me with my medical bills?
A: Yes, a personal injury lawyer can help you with your medical bills. They can negotiate with healthcare providers and insurance companies and maximize your chances of receiving compensation for medical expenses.
Q: What should I do if I can’t pay my medical bills after a personal injury?
A: If you are unable to pay your medical bills after a personal injury, you should contact your healthcare provider and explain your situation. They may be able to work out a payment plan or provide financial assistance options.
Q: Can I use the settlement amount from my personal injury case to pay my medical bills?
A: Yes, you can use the settlement amount from your personal injury case to pay your medical bills. However, it is important to consult with your personal injury lawyer to ensure that your bills are properly accounted for during the settlement negotiations.
Q: What is medical payment coverage in auto insurance?
A: Medical payments coverage, also known as “med pay,” is an optional coverage in auto insurance policies that provides coverage for medical expenses related to injuries sustained in a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident.
Q: Can an attorney help me with outstanding medical bills in a personal injury case?
A: Yes, an attorney can help you with outstanding medical bills in a personal injury case. They can negotiate with healthcare providers, review your bills for accuracy, and include them in the overall compensation demand.
Q: What if I don’t have health insurance to cover my medical bills after a personal injury?
A: If you don’t have health insurance to cover your medical bills after a personal injury, you can discuss alternative options with your personal injury attorney. They may be able to assist you in finding resources or negotiate reduced payment arrangements with healthcare providers.
Q: Can my personal injury attorney help me seek medical treatment?
A: Yes, your personal injury attorney can help you seek medical treatment. They can provide you with recommendations for healthcare providers experienced in treating personal injury cases and work to ensure that your medical needs are taken care of.
Managing medical bills before your personal injury case settles can be an uphill battle. But with the right approach and strategies, you can navigate these costs effectively during such trying times.
The essence lies in being thorough: scrutinizing all avenues like insurance coverage, crafting payment plans, tapping into assistance programs, haggling for discounts, seeking legal counsel, and maintaining meticulous documentation. An experienced personal injury attorney, like those at Pasternack Injury Law Group, can be invaluable during this journey. Their guidance not only helps manage the maze of medical bills but also significantly reduces the accompanying stress.