A regular concern of our Idaho car crash clients is: Who pays my medical bills?
The answer, like in so many other parts of the personal injury arena, is: “it depends.” Among the potential entities that need to pay are your own (or the driver’s) Medical Payments (“med-pay”) coverage (or Personal Injury Protection) from auto insurance; your health insurance; Medicaid, Medicare or you.
The thing that is missing from that list is the bad guy and his insurance company. The bad guy may be responsible for the bill ultimately but initially neither he nor his insurance will help you. And the medical providers want, and have a right to be paid.
It is YOUR Obligation to pay for your medical care BUT there are a number of insurance coverages that may be there to help you deal with that obligation. We have discussed this issue before in the blog but the question comes up frequently so we are reviewing it again.
The Insurance on the Car You Were In When You Were Injured.
If you were injured in an Idaho car crash, hopefully the car you were in was covered under a med- pay policy. When you are injured in an Idaho car accident you are an insured of the car you were in. If you were injured in another person’s car and you own your own car you may be able to make a claim on your own car’s insurance also.
Med-Pay is a type of auto insurance coverage that pays medical bills after an accident injury regardless of which driver was at fault. In Idaho it is generally the primary coverage meaning the med-pay benefits of the insurance policy must be exhausted before other insurance will pay. PIP is similar to med-pay but often has a wider range of benefits and pays for things in addition to just medical bills.
Your Own Health Insurance
Your health insurance will pay your medical bills from a Idaho car accident. In a collision it is secondary coverage. That means you have to first use up any applicable Med-Pay.
There are advantages to using health insurance if you are injured in an Idaho car accident.
One is discounts. Health insurance companies get discounts from hospitals and doctors. So the amount they pay is less than the full amount of the bill. This benefits you when it comes time to pay them back. Med-pay on the other hand usually has to pay full price for care.
The other advantage is it stops interest charges. Medical bills accrue interest like any other outstanding bill. If you wait to pay your medical bills until your injury case settles you may end up paying a lot of money in interest. And there is the possibility of a collections lawsuit if the bill does not get paid.
If your health insurance pays and you later get a settlement from your Idaho car accident you will need to pay back your health insurance. This called a claim for reimbursement. It is often referred to as “subrogation.” (Although that is technically wrong in many cases)
Medicaid-Medicare and Medical Payments for an Injury Accident in Idaho
Medicare and Medicaid are state and federal medical programs that help pay the medical bills of people who are eligible. Like private health insurance you will have to pay back the government for the care once you resolve your injury case. This area is a confusing and bureaucratically complex area due to the federal statutes that are involved, particulaly as relates to a law signed in 2007 by former president George Bush that is referred to as “MMSEA” (The Medicare, Medicaid and SCHP Extension Act of 2007).
Your Own Cash
Unfortunately, if none of the above payors is there to help, you are likely obligated to pay your own medical care.
Uninsured Motorists Coverage
If you have purchased uninsured motorists coverage and the bad guy does not have insurance, then your own insurance may be obligated to reimburse you for your medical expenses and other losses on an as incurred basis. Idaho law gives the carrier only 30 days to pay an amount justly due.
The Bad-Guy who Caused The Collision
If there was negligence or other legal basis for a claim, you may be able to recover your medical bills by hiring a lawyer to pursue an injury claim from your Idaho car accident. Injury claims can take time, often several years or more, so, if possible, find a way to get your bills paid with one of the other methods. That avoids interest and possible collections lawsuits. (Not to mention stress.) In the end, though all the earlier forms of payment will also be “paid back” by any amount of a settlement or verdict- Although, as we discuss in one area here, there are complex court rules and statues that impact how much is paid back.