As we’ve written before, if you were in a Virginia car accident, we recommend that you use your health insurance to pay your bills. This is because it will allow you access to future care, minimize your chances of unpaid bills messing up your credit, get you doctors paid. And even if you have to reimburse your health insurance, you’ll pay the plan back less than you’d be required to pay your providers.
But, James, I don’t have health insurance. What am I supposed to do?
To be clear, being an uninsured accident victim is a difficult spot to be in. It’s no secret that medical billing in the US is outrageously expensive. But, in our view, the last thing you should do is bury your head in the sand. So, here’s some tips we’d offer you.
Past Medical Bills.
When involved in a crash, if you received medical treatment, think about your bills in two stages: past medical bills and future medical bills. Past medical bills are the bills you already incurred likely by getting emergency treatment. For example, the ambulance bills, emergency room bills, x-rays and other imaging costs.
Medical Expense Benefits (“MedPay”). Even if you didn’t have health insurance, you may have helpful car insurance. Specifically, Medical Expense Benefits, aka MedPay, is usually a small policy ($3k-$5k) that you purchased as part of your car insurance package that can be used immediately to pay your bills. In some instances, folks will purchase even larger policies. So, make sure to review your car insurance to see if you have any benefits.
Payment Plans. Providers encounter unpaid bills regularly. So, often times they are willing to work with uninsured individuals to set up payment plants. If you haven’t already done so, reach out to your providers and see if they are willing to work with you. In our experience, communication is key. And providers would rather get paid slowly than not get paid at all.
Liens on your car accident case. While we believe this should be an effort of last resort, you can ask that your provider assign a lien on any compensation you may get from your car accident case. To be clear, not all providers are willing to do this. Also keep in mind, the liens will be paid out of your car accident case first. That means that if you are successful in your car accident case, your providers will be paid before you. This can lead to disappointing results once your case is resolved.
Future Medical Bills.
If you were so injured in your car crash that you need ongoing treatment, you will incur future medical bills. Indeed, a lack of access to future care is one of the most difficult aspects of being uninsured. Because you will need the care to maximize your chances of a full recovery from your accident. What’s more, only through treatment will you be able to establish your injuries in order to prove full value of your injuries in your car crash.
While there’s no perfect solution, here’s some things to think about:
Try to get insured. Thanks to massive changes in health insurance laws under ObamaCare, insurers can no longer exclude you from coverage for “pre-existing conditions.” That means you can seek insurance coverage after your car crash. And if you’re able to obtain insurance, you should be able to get covered for car accident treatment.
If you simply can’t afford insurance, look into your state Medicaid program. The purpose of Medicaid is to provide folks that have limited funds access to insurance. If you live in Virginia, check out this link for more information about Medicaid.
You should also look into the Health Insurance Exchanges under ObamaCare. While you may have a preconceived notion of ObamaCare, if you’re injured and need treatment, keep an open mind. ObamaCare is essentially a unified market place where you can search and compare health insurance policies. And, should you qualify, seek out tax credits to make health insurance more affordable.
For more information about ObamaCare, check out this really interesting YouTube video explaining it. To be clear, we have no affiliation with the speaker, but found her explanation super useful. And hope you find it useful too.
MedPay. Again, this is coverage that, if you purchased through your own car insurance, can be used directly to pay medical bills. If you are lucky enough to have purchased it, let your future providers know. And often times they are willing to work with your car insurance to get the bills paid and get you access to care.
Payment Plans. As discussed above, many providers are willing to work with you if you’re upfront about your situation. Especially, if you demonstrate from the outset that you will pay consistently. So, make sure to keep the lines of communication open.
Liens on your car accident case. Also as discussed above, while we only recommend this if you have no other options, some providers are willing to treat you if you are willing to assign a lien on your car accident case. While you may end up being disappointed because they get paid before you if you’re successful in your case, getting better is more important than money.
Free clinics. You should also seek out free clinics in your community. While their availability may be difficult to obtain, it’s certainly worth the effort.
Still have questions?
Make sure to check out our Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Practice Pages where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have. James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews. Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.