When you get injured due to someone else’s negligence, you likely will have costly medical bills. And unless you can afford to pay your medical costs out-of-pocket, you’ll have to use your settlement to pay your bills. The deadlines and processes for paying back the agencies that paid for your medical expenses can be overwhelming.
But our personal injury attorneys at the Buzbee Law Firm are here to help you through the process. Our attorneys explain how the settlement repayment process for your medical expenses works. Learn how to repay and protect your settlement so you can get the most out of it.
How Do I Pay Back the Agency That Paid My Medical Bills?
When you receive your personal injury settlement, you will have to repay the agency that paid for your medical care. If you were injured and received medical care, your private health insurance, or Medicare or Medicaid, was likely the entity that paid your bills. We’ll review the process, whether it be your health insurance company or a government health insurance plan.
Your Health Insurance
In your health insurance contract, it states that the health insurance company will pay for your medical care as long as you pay a monthly premium. It also states that if you recover money from a third party, the health insurance company is entitled to repayment, also known as subrogation.
Depending on what health insurance plan you have, your provider may cover different medical services. One health insurance provider may cover surgery costs, while another provider may cover ambulance transportation fees. A personal injury attorney can further explain how the subrogation process works.
Medicare or Medicaid
If a government healthcare plan like Medicare or Medicaid paid for your medical care after a serious injury, they will request repayment for the medical-related expenses. Their processes are quite similar, but a lawyer can help you define any key differences in their repayment process.
Both government healthcare providers, Medicare and Medicaid, will send you a demand letter requesting repayment as a part of the recovery process. If you do not repay, interest will accrue every 30 days that the debt is unpaid.
Are My Medical Bills Negotiable?
Yes, you can negotiate your medical bills, and it will not affect your settlement amount. The negotiation process is best done with a lawyer by your side because of their expertise.
The most common time to negotiate medical bills is while you are in recovery and after you’ve received your settlement. By waiting until you receive your settlement, you ensure that you get the settlement amount that you deserve. If you were to start negotiating your medical bills before you receive your settlement, you could risk there being confusion or discrepancies with your settlement amount.
Frequently, health insurance companies get substantial discounts on services like emergency room visits and ambulance fees. For example, let’s say a hospital charges your health insurance $1,200 for ambulance transportation, but your provider only covers $700 of it. Your lawyer can use this to an advantage and get a reduction on the amount that your health insurance carrier deducts from your settlement.
What Is a Medical Lien, and How Can It Apply to My Case?
After you receive your settlement, the agency that paid for your medical costs may file a medical lien to get their reimbursement of funds. The purpose of a lien is to enforce repayment of the debt you have to an entity.
In the case of a medical lien, the hospital and your health insurance company can both issue a medical lien. By issuing a medical lien, the issuer has the right to be the first party paid back from your settlement. If you do not pay in the time that the party requests, the issuer can put a debt collection on your financial record.
Just like medical bills, medical liens have the possibility to be negotiable. A lawyer who has experience with medical liens in personal injury cases may be able to help you reduce the amount the issuer wishes to deduct from your settlement.
How Hospitals Can Take Advantage of You and Your Settlement
Even though hospitals are supposed to properly bill you for the medical services you receive, they don’t always follow the rules. Unfortunately, hospitals may try to get more money from your settlement than you actually owe. The most common method hospitals use is known as balance billing.
To do this, hospitals will bill you for the amount after the insurance pays, as well as the difference between the amount paid to the insurer and the original charge. Texas banned balance billing for a majority of medical services in 2019, except for ground and air ambulance costs. But just because it is illegal doesn’t mean that Texas hospitals have completely abandoned this practice.
If you suspect that a hospital is overcharging you and taking more than they need from your settlement, a personal injury attorney can help catch them in the wrong and hold them accountable. After suffering injuries, the last thing you need is a place that’s supposed to take care of you, take advantage of you.
Protect Your Settlement With a Lawyer From the Buzbee Law Firm
Our dedicated personal injury attorneys understand the pain and stress you experience after an accident. That’s why at the Buzbee Law Firm, our lawyers make sure that you only repay what you need to.
If you’re ready to pay back the agencies that covered your medical expenses without paying a penny over, we’re excited to hear from you. Call us or fill out the form on our contact page to start your free consultation today.