What Do I Do with The Medical Bills I Receive While Waiting for a Settlement?
This is actually a very interesting question in my personal injury, automobile accident practice here in Gilbert, Arizona. Many, not all, but many of my clients fall into an odd situation where they are receiving bills from their medical providers, but they have health insurance coverage. There are two possible things going on here.
But before going into that, let me explain something. Many of my clients are quite upset when this happens. They feel that the accident was not their fault and so they should never have to pay ANYTHING out of pocket. Well yes, except here is the thing. Let’s say you come home from work and your refrigerator is busted. It was something completely out of your control. Your food is going to rot if you do not do something. So, even though you were not a fault for the refrigerator breaking, you have to either pay to get it fixed or pay for a new one. Same with medical services. You get the service, eventually, somehow you have to pay or declare bankruptcy and give up your claim to the bankruptcy trustee and who wants to do that?
So, there are many times where the medical provider, the doctor or hospital, simply failed to file the appropriate paperwork with the health insurance. If you have health insurance and are still receiving bills, it is best to call your health insurance company. Sometimes, you can submit the bill yourself and they will pay the claim. Or, sometimes, the health insurance company will call the provider to find out why they have not submitted the claim. Many times, they discover that it was simply a mistake and the claim forms are filled out and processed and the problem goes away.
Second, and this situation can get quite time consuming for my clients, the medical provider may chose not to file an insurance claim. The reason they do this from time to time is because, very simply, they can make more money by sending you the bill then making a claim with your health insurance company. This is because, when a medical provider signs up with an insurance company, they agree to a schedule of payments. So, for example, your leg was broken and they set it. If they submit this to your health insurance company they will only get paid, for example, the contract rate of $250.00. But the bill, the amount they would charge someone without insurance is $1,000.00! Yes, the difference can be that much! So, since they know you were in an automobile accident and are statistically likely to recovery money from a third party, they will make significantly more money if they simply bill you and not your health insurance company.
In this case there are a couple of options. First, call health insurance company and make sure that the medical provider has the option of submitting or not. It used to be that the contract between your health insurance company and the medical provider said that they had to submit the bill to them and accept the contract rate. As time went by, this clause in the contract is less and less likely to exist.
So what do you do?
- Well, you can pay the bill if you have the money and then hope to get reimbursed out the settlement proceeds.
- Second, you can all the provider and ask to set up a payment schedule, say $50.00 per month. This would keep the matter from going into collections and buy you time to heal up and pay them out of the settlement proceeds.
- Third, ask if they are willing to sign a lien on you settlement proceeds for payment. This means that you are instructing me, as your attorney, to pay this medical bill out of the settlement proceeds directly. Many times, the medical provider feels more comfortable knowing that your attorney will watch out for their interests as far as paying the bill goes.
- Or, you can ignore the whole thing, let it go into collection BUT this may result in a lawsuit against you, judgment and it will certainly effect your credit rating, something we all want to avoid.
If you are faced with a situation where a medical provider is refusing to submit their bill to your health insurance company, let your Gilbert personal injury attorney know. For the most part, your attorney can offer you guidance on what to do but in the end, but they are rarely in a position to pay the bill or stop a collection agency from doing what it is they do – sue and collect. In the end, it is your credit, your bill and it must be dealt with as fast as possible to avoid credit dings.
If you are dealing with legal issues connected to an automobile or motorcycle accident, Marco Injury Law can help. Contact me today to learn more about your options and to schedule a free consultation.
Daniel Marco – Marco Injury Law
1166 E Warner Rd #101
Gilbert, AZ 85296
Email: [email protected]