Medical treatment can be very expensive, especially for injuries that are serious or life-altering. If your injuries were caused by another’s negligence, you may be able to attempt to recover compensation from the at-fault party.
However, no money will be available to you until after the claim is settled. How can you pay your bills while you are waiting?
Recovering compensation through a personal injury lawsuit is a lengthy process, but healthcare providers may not want to wait until your claim settles. If you cannot pay, bills may get sent to debt collectors.
Fortunately, there are several options that may be available to you. In some cases, you may be able to reach an agreement with a health care provider to wait to collect until the end of the legal process. Learn more about your options below.
Using Your Health Insurance or Medicare or Medicaid
After an accident, your health insurance will likely be your first option for covering medical expenses. If you do not have your own healthcare plan, you may be covered under a spouse or parent’s policy, or you may have Medicare or Medicaid benefits.
These insurance options may help to pay for your doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, prescription drug coverage, and other expenses. However, at the end of the legal process, your health insurance company will likely require reimbursement of those funds through a process called subrogation. Those costs can be deducted from your settlement.
Health insurance is just one option, and it is often not enough to cover all your medical costs. After paying what you can through your health insurance, you may have a co-pay that has to be paid up front, or you may have to pay out of pocket if you received some type of medical care that is not covered by your insurance. In other cases, injury victims may have coinsurance responsibilities – for example, the health insurer may pay 80 percent while you must pay 20 percent.
Letter of Protection
Copays and other patient responsibilities can add up quickly. That is why you should discuss the situation with your Richmond personal injury attorney. He or she may be able to send a letter to your medical providers asking them to wait to collect until after your claim has been settled. That way you avoid the possibility of bills getting sent to collection agencies and damaging your credit score.
Working Out a Payment Plan
Hospitals and doctor’s offices know patients may not be able to pay all their out-of-pocket costs at once. This is particularly true after a surgical procedure that involved one or more nights of recovery in the hospital.
To deal with some of the remaining expenses, you can approach the hospital billing department for additional assistance. Billing departments may be willing to work with you on an affordable payment plan if you explain that you are currently seeking compensation through an injury claim. However, it is important to consider your budget and make sure the payments you agree to are affordable. If you miss even one payment, health care providers may cancel the agreement and demand payment in full immediately.
Medical Payment Coverage from Your Car Insurance
If you are involved with a car accident case, you may be able to obtain coverage through your own insurance policy, even if the other driver is at fault. This medical payment coverage, if you purchased it, may help to provide additional coverage for your medical bills from the accident. Depending on the policy, your coverage may also include compensation for income lost because of your injuries.
As you can see, some of these additional insurance options could help you avoid a financial catastrophe. We strongly recommend that, while shopping for auto insurance, you consider purchasing more than the minimum coverage. When your current policy comes up for renewal, it can be a good time to review your coverage and existing limits to determine the benefit of any changes.
Medical funding is a last resort for covering medical expenses while a claim is being negotiated. Injury victims can enter in an agreement with a third-party company to pay a percentage of their medical bills. For example, if you are filing a product liability claim over a defective medical device and you need revision surgery, a third-party company could pay for that surgery.
Once you agree to a settlement, the third party will likely file a lien against it to collect the money it paid the hospital for your treatment. However, these companies are looking to make a profit, so the lien they file is likely to be for more money than they paid the hospital.
If you are approached by a representative from company offering to pay your medical bills, you should discuss the offer with a licensed attorney.
Ask Us Your Legal Questions in a Free Consultation
The attorneys at Geoff McDonald and Associates are available to discuss your injury and your potential legal claim in a free consultation. We have obtained hundreds of millions in compensation on behalf of our clients and have extensive knowledge of Virginia laws and the complexities of the legal process.
There is no risk to you in meeting with us because the consultation is free, and you are under no obligation to file legal action after this meeting is over. If we find you have a case, and you decide to hire us, there will be no upfront fees.
Our CEO and President Attorney Geoff McDonald is a member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and American Association for Justice.