When you or a loved one is injured in an accident, how the injured person pays for their medical treatment is an important consideration that often gets less attention than it should. This is not surprising considering when someone is suddenly and seriously injured, there are not many opportunities to think about (much less negotiate) the costs of the ambulance, the emergency room, or ER doctors. An injured person still in pain may be given medical advice to get MRIs, physical therapy, chiropractic care, injections, etc. This inability to control medical costs may continue for weeks and months after a car wreck or accident. How these treatments will be paid for adds to the list of the victims’ problems and concerns.
In situations where the victim does not have health insurance, or the means to pay out of pocket for their medical care, they can sometimes have their medical expenses covered under a Healthcare Provider Lien. A Healthcare Provider Lien is an agreement by the injured person to pay the health care provider(s) out of an eventual personal injury settlement once it has been received. These agreements usually involve some amount of interest and sometimes other fees. It may also mean that the medical care provided will cost more than the same care had health insurance paid for it or if the victim paid cash at the time of service (usually a discounted rate).
Lien arrangements have been beneficial for many uninsured injured persons who did not have extra money or health insurance to pay for unexpected medical treatment. In other cases, liens have created a different problem. For example, sometimes injury victims have paid higher lien prices for treatment when they could have paid cheaper rates by using their Medical Payments Insurance, commonly referred to as “medpay” or health insurance.
Medpay is an optional first-party insurance coverage offered in most all Colorado auto insurance policies. While medpay does cost additional money in premiums, the cost is low compared to the medical care benefits it provides. Another advantage to medpay is that the injured person never has to repay the money expended on their benefit from a personal injury settlement. This is different than some other insurances which often times try to recover some or all of what was paid for medical treatment out of a personal injury settlement. This attempt by insurance companies to recoup what they paid for medical treatment out of a later personal injury settlement is called “subrogation”.
Many people with auto insurance in Colorado are unaware they have medpay coverage. To determine if you have or should consider adding Medpay coverage to your auto insurance policy, contact your insurance agent or company directly.
In some instances, medical providers may direct injured patients to a healthcare lien instead of a medpay insurance claim or even a traditional health insurance claim because the medical provider may get paid more. Insurance companies have pre-negotiated rates that often pay out much less than their standard rates. Agreeing to a healthcare lien allows the provider to charge generally higher rates for their medical services. Unfortunately, for the injured person, this means a lower net recovery as that lien will be paid out of any eventual settlement.
The Colorado legislature recently passed a bill, House Bill 21-1300, now a statute, C.R.S. 38-27.5-101, et seq., governing liens created or held by health care providers. This bill was created to encourage providers to treat patients who are not insured and to protect those persons from excessive medical charges sometimes associated with liens. This is helpful for people that have suffered a personal injury. The patient should begiven written information from their provider offering a healthcare lien that thoroughly explains the terms. This information, or disclosure, must outline the following before the injured person signs the healthcare lien:
-The different types of payment options for medical care, such as medpay or health insurance.
-The fact the lien cannot be assigned to a debt collector.
-Whether there is a relationship between the injured person's medical provider and legal counsel.
In short, thinking carefully about how you will pay for medical treatment needed due to the fault of another is important. Knowing and considering your options on the front side will provide you with peace of mind and potentially a more significant amount of money in your pocket at the end of your case.
The team at Chris Parks Law is happy to talk with anyone injured by the fault of another. Call our office at (720)805-1193 for a complimentary consultation to discuss your options to pay for medical treatment necessitated by an injury or accident caused by another.