When you are seriously injured, it is absolutely essential that you seek medical treatment. This is true regardless of whether or not you have medical insurance, as well as whether or not the cost of your injuries extends way beyond your policy limit. However, while there are few things more important than seeking medical care, knowing how to pay your medical bills, as well as who will pay your medical bills, can be overwhelming.
You Are Responsible for Paying for Your Medical Bills as They Are Incurred
Generally, you are responsible for paying for you medical bills as you collect them. If you fail to pay your medical bills, the hospital can file a lien against you. A lien is a demand for repayment. Your burden to pay back your medical bills is even greater in the event that there are no available insurance coverages for you to turn to. However, in many cases, avenues under which you can seek money to pay your medical bills are available. These include:
- The insurance policy of the other driver. If you were in a car accident where the other party was at fault, then the bodily injury liability coverage of that driver should offer you a settlement amount. If you have already paid your medical bills out of pocket, you can keep the settlement; if you have not paid your medical bills, you will need to hand the money over to the appropriate parties.
- Your own car insurance policy. Even though Arizona is an at-fault car insurance state, you may be able to recover compensation for your hospital bills under you own insurance policy if you carry medical payment coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is true even if you were not actually driving at the time of your accident, but were instead walking, biking, or riding a motorcycle.
- Your health insurance coverage. Federal law requires that all Americans carry health insurance. If you are currently insured and are in an accident where medical treatment is necessary, your policy should cover some of your medical costs. Of course, the amount of money–as well as the type of treatment–that your policy offers varies on a case-by-case basis.
- Property insurance. If your injuries were incurred on another’s property, that person’s property insurance/homeowner’s insurance may offer you money for your medical bills if you file a claim against it.
- Personal injury claim. In the event that you owe money for medical bills, or have already paid your medical bills but deserve to be compensated, you can file a personal injury claim for compensation against the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance.
A Health Insurance Company’s Right to Collect
It is important to note that when you incur hospital expenses, the hospital has the right to collect that money. If you are awarded damages in a personal injury claim, the hospital has the right to recover the value of medical expenses that you have incurred from your settlement. The same thing is true for your health insurance company. Under the laws of subrogation, your health insurance company can make a payment that is actually owed by another party (i.e. the at fault party), and then has the right to collect the money from the party that owes the debt. As such, if your health insurance company paid for your medical expenses, and then you recover a settlement amount in a personal injury lawsuit, your health insurance company has the right to recover the value of what it paid.
It is extremely important that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible after being injured and incurring medical expenses. An attorney can help you to determine who will pay, as well as help you to avoid potentially disastrous financial events, such as have a lien filed against you, going into severe debt, or even having to file for bankruptcy as a result of being unable to pay your medical bills.