One of the most common questions asked by a new client is: should I use my own health insurance to pay my medical bills. The answer is always yes. People who have been injured through no fault of their own are often confused about who should pay their accident-related medical bills. One source of this confusion is that emergency room personnel or doctors treating injured people may ask for car insurance information if they know their patient was injured in an automobile accident. Other times, injured people don’t think it is fair that their health insurance should pay for harm caused by someone else. Regardless of the source of the confusion, the answer is clear, you should always use your health insurance any time you receive accident-related medical treatment. Here are some reasons why:
First, car insurance companies do not pay medical bills directly to the hospital or doctors even when their insured driver is found to be responsible. Car insurance companies only pay you, as the claimant, when and if there is a settlement. Sometimes this takes months or even years. During this time, unpaid bills can go into collections and negatively affect your credit. If your claim is ultimately denied or settlement is delayed beyond the time period your health insurance company allows for submitting bills, you may be responsible for paying the medical provider for the entire amount owed. Promptly submitting your bills to your health insurance company avoids this problem entirely.
Second, using health insurance to pay your medical bills allows you to maximize the recovery you receive from the car insurance company when your claim is settled. The amount you receive from the car insurance company will include the full amount of any accident-related bill you incur. Despite the fact that you recover the full amount of the bill, health insurance companies receive huge discounts from medical providers. If you don’t use your health insurance, the full balance will be owed by you at the time of your settlement. If your health insurance has paid their discounted rate, the benefit of the health insurance company’s discount is passed along to you.
Third, even if your health insurance carrier is entitled to be reimbursed from the proceeds of your settlement because you are in the military, you are disabled or your private group health insurance plan requires what is sometimes called ‘subrogation,’ you still get the benefit of the health insurance companies discounted rate. When the health insurance company is reimbursed from your settlement, the amount that is paid back to them is significantly less than the full amount of the medical bills. You only have to reimburse your health insurance company a fraction of the full amount of the claimed bills.
For most Americans, health insurance can be a costly monthly expenditure. When you pay for the benefits of health coverage, you should receive the benefit of having that insurance whenever you require medical care. If you or someone you know is receiving accident-related medical treatment, make sure that your medical provider is promptly submitting all of their bills to the health insurance company. It will always work out better in the end.
About the Author: Bridget Long is a personal injury lawyer with the law firm of Allen & Allen. She works out of their Richmond office, serving injured victims across Virginia. Bridget is experienced in handling cases involving motorcycle accidents, car accidents, truck accidents and pedestrian accidents.