If you’ve been injured in an accident and you don’t have health insurance, you may panic wondering how your medical bills are going to get paid. This can be a stressful time for anyone, and we at The Sevey Law Firm want you to know that there are a few options available to you that will help cover your treatment costs. Of course, you may receive compensation after filing a personal injury claim or a civil lawsuit, but those funds could take many months to finally get into your hands, and your bills are coming in right now.
Ultimately, the person whose negligence caused the accident that resulted in your injuries (or their insurance company) is responsible for compensating you fairly for your damages. Unfortunately, your medical treatment providers will not wait until your claim is settled or a judgement rendered in your favor has been filed after a lawsuit. It is your responsibility to pay your medical bills as they come due after your treatment. So, what are your options if you don’t have health insurance and don’t have money readily available to pay those bills while you await compensation?
You may be able to use any of the following to cover your medical treatment costs:
- No-fault auto insurance
- The at-fault party’s medical payments coverage
- Personal payment arrangements with your medical treatment providers’ billing office
Let’s take a look at each of these options a little more closely.
No-Fault Auto Insurance
California is a “fault” state, so no-fault insurance is not required to be carried. Still, you can choose to carry no-fault insurance which would mean that no matter who is negligent in an accident, your medical expenses for treatment will still be covered. This coverage also includes time off work to heal your injuries and hospital expenses. Coverages may vary from policy to policy, but in general, no-fault insurance will cover:
- Basic necessary medical treatments (80% of reasonable expenses which includes surgery, x-rays, prosthetics, and dental services)
- Time off work (limited to the period of time specified within the policy)
- Replacement services such as childcare, housekeeping, or meal services for those who work from home, or stay-at-home parents
Because laws vary, it is important to contact an attorney who has experience in California personal injury law if you have questions regarding utilizing this type of insurance to pay your medical bills following an accident.
Medical Payment Coverage, or Med Pay
Medical payment coverage is also known as med pay. This is an additional optional coverage that gets attached to your auto insurance policy. Since it is not required in California, it must be chosen as an additional coverage when you review your auto insurance policy. The coverage amounts for med pay are usually around $5000, but you can purchase additional coverage for an additional cost.
Med pay coverage will cover anyone injured in your vehicle at the time of the accident, whether the accident was your own fault or the other driver’s fault, or a combination of the two. The medical treatments provided must be reasonable and necessary to the injuries suffered.
The great thing about carrying med pay coverage is that, if the accident causing your injuries was not your fault, and you utilize your med pay coverage, your insurance company can not raise your insurance rates or cancel your insurance because you used this benefit. There are some rules to using med pay – one being that medical treatment must begin within one year of the accident or that all of the medical treatment bills must be submitted within one year of the accident. It is wise to have your personal injury attorney review your auto insurance policy to ensure that you can utilize this coverage if need be.
Medicaid is a government-run health insurance program that helps to ensure that low-income people have health insurance that is provided through state agencies. The federal government sends funds to pay for this insurance to state agencies who provide the insurance itself through different programs.
If, after your accident, you find yourself without a job or without health insurance (or both), it is possible you will qualify for Medicaid. If you think you may qualify, you should contact your state’s Medicaid office to fill out the necessary paperwork. If you qualify for Medicaid insurance, a state agency will pay for your medical treatment bills from the date you apply and are accepted for the program, and may pay past bills. Payment of past bills depends on state Medicaid laws and regulations, and again it is a wise decision to consult a personal injury attorney to help you through this often overwhelming process.
Payment Arrangements with Medical Treatment Providers
Doctors and chiropractors who are familiar with treating accident victims are aware that some of their patients are without health insurance, and are willing to work out a payment plan so that these patients can receive the services they need.
Often, these providers will want you to sign an agreement that you will pay them for the treatments they provide out of your personal injury settlement or verdict. This agreement is called a personal injury lien, and it is a binding legal contract between you and your treatment provider that requires you to or your attorney to pay the treatment provider what is owed to them after you either settle out of court or receive a favorable verdict from a judge or jury. This money will be paid out as to the provider’s first, and you will receive what is left (after payment to the attorney is made).
Because personal injury laws and customary procedures vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it is important to consult with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney such as the attorneys at The Sevey Law Firm. Personal injury law is our only focus, and we have decades of experience in settling and trying cases similar to yours. We can help you make the right decisions if you’ve been in an accident and don’t have health insurance. We can also show you resources to utilize that you may not be aware of for your treatment.
Give us a call at (916) 788-7100, or contact us online here.