Here’s one of the most immediate questions you’ll have after a car accident: “How will my medical bills get paid?” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 26% of Americans between the ages of 18-64 said they have had problems paying medical bills. Additionally, 52% of debt collections in the United States contained medical debt. The price of health care is ballooning. The last thing you want is for those massive medical bills to be sent to collections, accumulating interest, and hurting your credit score. If your accident wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to a settlement that can help pay your medical bills, but sometimes the settlement process can take months or even years. In that case, you’ll want to take steps to get your medical bills resolved prior to the settlement.
Unfortunately, many law firms will have a third party pay all of your medical bills at once and hold onto the debt until the settlement is resolved. At Patton and Patton, we believe this is not in your best interest (pun intended). These third parties will often charge you interest for every month they hold onto the debt which will come out of your settlement at the end of the negotiation process. Instead, we work hard to coordinate payment of your bills through various means to keep them from going to collections without having a third party charge you interest.
What is Personal Injury Protection?
Your own auto insurance policy is your first line of defense against medical debt. In Kansas, car insurance policies have coverage what is sometimes called no-fault coverage or personal injury protection (PIP). The amount of this coverage varies from policy to policy. A typical amount of coverage $4,500 for medical bills, but it can vary greatly. This section of your auto policy can sometimes even reimburse you for lost wages you’ve incurred because of your car accident. To get access to this coverage, you’ll want to call your insurance company and report the accident. Often, they’ll send you an application to fill out before you can start receiving for those (PIP) benefits. Afterword you’ll want to ask your medical providers to bill your car insurance company instead of your regular medical insurance reminding them that your injuries are the result of a car accident.
Health Insurance Can Help
Your next line of defense is usually your own health insurance. After your (PIP) coverage is exhausted, you’ll receive a letter from your car insurance company to that effect. You can give a copy of that to your medical providers and ask them to bill your regular insurance as usual from that point on. A spreadsheet can be very helpful for keeping track of all the medical bills and insurance payments. Click Here to download our free spreadsheet to help you keep track of you medical bills.
Sometimes your PIP is exhausted. Your medical insurance has paid everything it’s going to pay, and you still have remaining balances with you medical providers. At this point, you can call your medical providers and ask them not to forward your bills to collections until your settlement is resolved. Sometimes your medical providers will either reset their timeline for sending the debt to collections. Other times they will put an indefinite hold on the account until you’re able to resolve it.
A car accident doesn’t have to result in crippling medical debt, ballooning interest charges, and a demolished credit score. If you contact Patton and Patton, we will make every effort to make sure your medical bills are paid quickly with the least amount of cost to you. It can be a complicated process, but we have the experience and expertise to get the job done. Here’s what Beth had to say about our service.
This article is written by Matt Patton. Matt is the youngest Patton boy, a father of two, and a legal assistant at our firm. Though the content of this article is reviewed by a lawyer, this nor any post should be viewed as legal advice. For legal advice concerning your particular situation call our office.