Your primary concern after suffering any sort of personal injury should be getting quality medical care and getting well.
Believe it or not, this can actually be fairly difficult.
Because our health insurance system, and the laws governing it, are a hot mess!
The doctors are getting jerked around by the insurance companies. The insurance companies are jerking around each other. The law does nothing to solve or regulate these fights.
And guess who is stuck in the middle? You.
You may have multiple forms of insurance that will cover your medical care, but unless the doctor knows exactly which one will pay that bill right now – they won’t let you set foot in the office. That’s right – you suffer and wait while they decide which one of several big insurance companies will have to pay.
All of this makes getting health care after a car accident needlessly complicated. It ends up hurting people because they are denied health care – even when they have insurance. It is a stupid system right now, and nobody seems interested in fixing it
But enough of me on my soap box! Here is what you need to do:
Give the Health Care Provider ALL Insurance Information
Make sure every health care provider has information about any and all insurance that may cover your health care. That includes your private health insurance. Do this even if you have PIP and think PIP will pay the bills. Always make them take your private health insurance as backup payment.
Your doctor can always bill your private health insurer as backup payment. You do not want your health care provider to claim they didn’t even know about your health insurance because you didn’t give it to them. Then they may run up a big bill and try to get paid out of the proceeds of your personal injury case.
Give them one of my cards or my contact information so they can contact me to coordinate payment. We will make sure PIP is properly processed so they get paid. And we can tell them PIP is exhausted and they have to start billing your private health insurance.
First, Use Your PIP
PIP is no fault insurance provided through your own car insurance. You can read more about it in our Free Legal Guide to Car Accidents.
PIP does NOT have a lien on the money you get from your personal injury case. You can look at it as “free money” that covers your medical bills up to the limits of your PIP policy. In a Maryland car accident case, that is a $2,500 minimum.
We will process your PIP for you as a courtesy. Once PIP is exhausted, they will send a letter saying as much.
Then you have to move on to another form of payment.
Second, Use Your Health Insurance
Once PIP is exhausted, you should make sure your medical providers bill your health insurance company.
Your health insurer will have the right to assert a lien. Read more about those liens here.
However, you will get your medical care paid for, and it will likely be at a true cost much less than the full amount of the medical bills. That works for you. Read about how in our blog post on liens.
So be sure to always give your doctor your health insurance information at the first visit.
Health Insurance WILL Pay for Accident Related Medical Care
Some billing offices in some medical facilities mistakenly believe your personal health insurance will not pay for care related to an accident. That is NOT true.
If they try to tell you that, show them this post and ask them to call me.
Your health insurance must pay for your medical care even after an accident, as long as another insurer is not primary – like PIP or Workers’ Comp. If PIP is exhausted, or if workers’ comp is refusing to pay, they can legally bill the health insurer.
However, your private health insurance may have the right to assert a lien on your personal injury case. They get their money back from the personal injury case.
Last Ditch Effort – Authorizations & Assignments
If you have exhausted your PIP, and you don’t have private health insurance, your only option might be signing an Authorization & Assignment (A&A) from the doctor. Your provider will want me to sign it too.
An A&A is a contract with the health care provider in which you guarantee to reimburse them for their bill out of the proceeds of your personal injury case. I sign it too, and that binds me to pay the bill when the case settles. I will have control over your money at the end of the case and I will be bound to pay this bill.
I do not like signing these documents and I try to resist them. They give the doctor more rights to collect on that bill than they have under state and federal law. It takes away any negotiating room I might have. If things go badly in your case, we still have to pay them.
However, sometimes they are just necessary or you won’t get any medical care.
If a health care provider wants you to sign an A&A, talk to me first.
Conclusion & Next Steps
Remember, if you do nothing else, make sure your health care provider has allthe information for your private health insurance when you seek medical care. This is true even if PIP or another insurer will pay them.
Call me if you have any questions about this process.
Want to know more? Discover what you need to know about personal injury cases in Maryland. Click here to see our Free Legal Consumer Guide to Car Accidents and get answers to your questions today.Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.
Need a personal injury attorney? Please contact us for a consultation today if you need an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer for your personal injury case.
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