A car accident need not wipe you out financially. One of the biggest fears of our clients upon a car accident is getting bombarded by four- to six-figure medical bills. Fear of paying for medical treatment after a car accident can be paralyzing.
To help you sleep easier at night, we explain that your medical expenses after a car accident should be paid for by insurance—and reimbursed by the at-fault driver.
Paying for Medical Treatment After a Car Accident: Who’s Responsible?
The at-fault driver and their insurer are responsible for all of the damages they have caused, including the cost of medical treatment, EMT, and hospital stays. However, the medical treatment needs to be paid for when you actually get treatment, not when your case gets settled, which could be weeks or months after the accident. Since you don’t have that kind of time, here are a few ways you can handle paying for treatment soon after an accident:
Use Your Own Health Insurance
This is the normal option, since most people have health insurance. Some of our clients, however, have expressed fear that by paying for medical treatment themselves, they may harm their claim. Sometimes, they simply feel it is “unfair” to use their own insurance. This is certainly not the case. In fact, getting your treatment underway and paid for will only help strengthen your claim. More on this in the next section.
If you do not have health insurance, you and your healthcare provider can agree to take out a medical lien to ensure your treatment gets paid for once your case is settled. This way, you can get the treatment you need without waiting for a settlement. Once your case has reached final settlement, your treatment will be paid for. We have expanded on this in a few sections below.
Use Both Health Insurance and Medical Liens
You may use a combination of both. If your health insurance doesn’t cover specific treatments or certain procedures, and you cannot afford to pay out of pocket, you can take out a medical lien for part of your medical costs. This may also be a good way to cover copays at the hospital or urgent care center because they can be quite expensive for emergency services. Multiple treatments with multiple copays and deductibles can really add up over time.
Should I Use My Health Insurance?
Rather than waiting for a settlement, you should use your own health insurance to pay for your treatment. Using your health insurance to get treatment after an accident will not harm your claim.
Treatment for injuries caused by auto accidents usually costs a lot of money in our healthcare system. You may be concerned about high deductibles or high co-insurance payments, because most health insurance coverage does not kick in until after you pay your deductibles and copays.
Luckily, you have another option besides paying your deductibles and copays out of pocket. If you have medical payments coverage with your auto insurance provider, you can use it to cover your deductibles until your primary health insurance coverage kicks in.
Medical Payments Insurance
The main benefit of a medical payments policy is it will cover your copays and deductibles.
Medical payment insurance also would cover medical expenses for you, your passengers, and any family members involved in the accident, regardless of which driver was at fault. It will cover your passengers even if they are not listed on your health insurance plan.
This policy also covers injuries to you or a family member as a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
Another benefit of using this coverage is when you use it, you are not required to pay copays. Also, if you exceed the limits on your health insurance coverage, you will still be covered by your medical payments insurance. For more information about medical payments coverage, go to this page.
Can I Still Get Treatment If I Don’t Have Health Insurance?
Absolutely. You should still get treatment as soon as possible.
Discuss this with your doctor or their front office staff at the beginning of your treatment and see if they are willing to defer payment until after your case gets settled. If they agree, they’ll probably advise you that they’ll be recording a medical lien in order to ensure their payment from the insurance company. This means that your treating medical provider will begin treatment but wait for the payment.