For most people, getting injured in a car accident brings the unwelcome knowledge that comes with receiving treatment using our country’s health care system. They might have had experience going to their primary care doctor for a checkup or to deal with a bad cold, but beyond that they have been able to ignore the intricacies of American health care. So let’s try and give you some tips to consider when you get medical care after a wreck.
Most people have health insurance. Use it. But in order to do so, you also have to understand the system set up by your health insurance company. Most insurers have online access to their various services these days if you set up an account with them. The advantage of doing so is that you can access a list of doctors that take your insurance. You want to do this because if you don’t use a doctor in your insurance company’s network, they may deny payment for those services which leaves you on the hook for the bills. Another advantage of using your health insurance company’s online account is that you can monitor bills that have been sent to your health insurer by your doctors and be informed about amounts paid by your health insurer. If they deny a bill it’s also an early warning system for you to contact them and find out why it was denied.
Research Your Doctor
When you get into your account (often known as a “portal”) and review lists of doctors, you should look for doctors with specialties in physiatry or who have the designation of “D.O.” (Doctor of Osteopathy). In my experience, these types of doctors are the most prepared to deal with traumatic injuries. That being said, you can’t count on their designation for comfort in knowing that this doctor can help you. Try calling the doctor’s office and ask if he or she has handled traumatic injuries from, for example, car accidents before. If you find out the doctor has handled traumatic injuries, you should next go online and research what their other patients have said about them in the past. You can find great information on the doctor who is going to be helping you recover and sometimes you can find out that the doctor you were considering is definitely not who you want to see.
Medical Payments Coverage
You also need to check your car insurance coverage. Colorado law requires automobile insurers to offer medical payments coverage in a minimum amount of $5,000. This is money that is earmarked for use in paying medical bills on your behalf (see my blog on medical payments coverage for more information). Emergency responders, such as ambulance and emergency rooms, have the first claim on these monies usually and are very good at exhausting them so if you have health insurance you want to make sure that you use it instead of your medical payments coverage. You can then get more bang for your buck by using the med pay for other medical care that may be cheaper than $5,000 for an ER visit and stretch those monies out. This can be a complicated process, so if you are seriously injured and are having a lot of medical care, this is another area we can help in.
Finally, and just briefly, there are folks who don’t have health insurance. This, unfortunately, isn’t very unusual. There are two potential solutions and both involve getting medical care for your injuries which is the most crucial thing you can do. One option is to ask your doctor if they will work on a lien basis. This is where they agree to give you medical care and wait to be paid until you reach a settlement with the negligent party. Unfortunately, most people have to see multiple medical providers so trying to get all of your doctors to work on a lien can be daunting. The alternative is medical lien companies which provide medical care on a lien, but they maintain whole networks of doctors so you only have to have one lien and you can get the care you need from doctors of different specialties without the hassle of separate liens. One warning here though; make sure you research medical lien companies as well. While there are very good lien companies out there, you want to know what experiences others have had before you sign up with one. Remember, liens are monies, or in this case services, which you are ultimately responsible for paying back regardless of the outcome of your case.
The Other Insurance Company Will Not Pay Your Bills
One last thing (and I promise this is it) always remember that the insurer for the person who hurt you will NOT pay any of your medical bills as you are treating. For an explanation of this, see my blog on common myths.
Call our office at 719-633-6620 for a free initial consultation.