After an accident, it’s difficult to overcome the stresses involved with the occurrence and whatever injuries or damages that may have resulted. But that stress is often compounded as the medical bills start coming in. For people with limited incomes who are awaiting an insurance settlement, it can be even worse.
If you’re hurt on the job, workers’ compensation insurance will pay your medical bills. However, if in an auto accident or a slip and fall, you are responsible for the medical bills as they are incurred. Yours or the other driver’s insurance will often pay for the damage to your car, but medical bills can be much more complicated.
With bills arriving for the ambulance ride, the ER visit, the doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and all of the other aspects of medical care that people are often faced with after an accident, it can be rather overwhelming. So what does one do when they aren’t able to pay all of these bills?
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
In Florida, “no fault” insurance will pay some or all of your medical bills regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will pay up to $10,000 of your medical bills if a healthcare professional determines that you had an emergency medical condition within 14 days of the accident. If it is not considered an emergency medical condition, PIP will pay up to $2,500 for medical bills. Yet, for some, medical bills can quickly exceed those amounts.
Even for those who are uninsured, PIP will also pay for lost wages up to $10,000 for those who are injured in an auto accident. Yet, it still only pays for about 80% of medical bills, such as X-rays, surgeries, and other necessary treatment. It often also helps to pay for some of the bills incurred through the ambulance, hospital services, and rehabilitation, but it doesn’t regularly pay for all of it. PIP also no longer pays for rehabilitative services that were once considered legitimate, like massage and acupuncture.
If you have medical insurance, even if you are awaiting a settlement in a case where the other driver was at fault, your health insurance provider should help cover some of the additional costs. However, if you do not have appropriate insurance, there are other ways to finance your remaining medical bills.
First, we suggest bringing an attorney on board as soon as you are able. At Wittmer | Linehan, we support our clients not only through the steps of the lawsuit, but also in dealing with medical providers. Many, if not most, will accept contingent-based medical billing, which means we will arrange payment to those providers once the settlement has been reached. Medical providers who accept this arrangement understand that any procedures that occur prior to the completion of the settlement will not be paid at the time of service. We collect the billing details, and once the settlement is reached, we pay the amount owed to those providers. This allows you to receive the care as it’s needed, but not the strain of going into debt in order to receive that care.
You may also be eligible for Med-Pay, a medical payments coverage that could provide you with $5,000 to start paying off your health care providers. Medicare and Medicaid can also be drawn from in certain instances, and with the advent of the sharing-economy, crowd-sourced funding from platforms such as GoFundMe have become popular, if not fully embraced by the mainstream.
Yet, when these resources are exhausted, there are sometimes more bills to pay. Some get so financially overwhelmed that they seek to have the bills discharged through a bankruptcy, but that can also add additional stress by damaging your credit score. And when people just stop paying the bills altogether, those bills are sent to a collection agency, which can also damage your credit.
Before getting to this stage and letting medical bills overwhelm you, talk to an attorney so that we can remove the extra burden of medical expenses. There are many ways to get you through this ordeal, and Wittmer | Linehan knows how to provide you the help needed. Contact us today and we will get through this process together