Assuming that you are not at fault for the accident, the medical bills could be paid from a number of sources. You will want to coordinate with your lawyer on this because it could significantly impact your take home dollars.
1. The at-fault driver’s car insurance.
2. Your own health insurance.
3. PIP or Med-Pay.
4. Letter of Protection.
5. Indigent or Charity care.
Please see our article for a more in-depth discussion.
The at-fault driver’s car insurance. The other insurance company is supposed to pay all medical bills. However, there is a catch here. The insurance company usually pays a lump-sum final settlement, which occurs after all the medical bills have been incurred. Here is the catch, you don’t want to settle until all your accident-related medical treatment has been completed. But you can’t get the medical treatment unless you have a way to pay for the doctor. Bottom line: You need to find some other way to get medical care until it is time to settle your case. There are a number of ways you can do this.
Your own health insurance. If you are blessed to have private health insurance, it will pay for accident related medical care just like any other medical care. However, you need to know that almost every health insurance plan is “secondary” payor -- meaning that if the at-fault car insurance company pays a settlement, your health insurance company will seek reimbursement for the money they paid in accident-related medical care.
PIP or Med-Pay Sometimes, your own car insurance will pay for medical bills while the medical care is ongoing and before the final settlement, but you have to buy the right car insurance. It is called personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (Med. Pay). This allows you to pay cash for the medical bills as they incurred up to the limits of your policy. (Typically, a PIP policy is $2,500 or $5,000, but it sometimes is $10,000.)
Letter of Protection This is a way to get medical care for injuries that are specifically connected to the accident. A letter of protection is an agreement that your lawyer will pay the doctor out of the settlement (rather than give the money to you and let you pay the doctor.) This way, the doctor is “protected” from a client who takes the settlement money and spends it on household bills rather than pay the doctor. When the lawyer has a good reputation, the doctors will trust that the lawyer normally would not take the case unless it had merit, so they are willing to treat on a letter of protection. There are several qualified doctors, chiropractors and imaging (MRI, CT scan and X-Ray) companies that will take a letter of protection from our firm.
Indigent Care. In Bexar County (San Antonio and some of the surrounding area), Care Link is a program that helps people with no health insurance get medical care. You apply for the program, and you make a monthly payment that is based on your ability to pay. Everyone can apply, including undocumented people who need medical care. For people who have very little income, the monthly payments are really small -- sometimes less than $20 per month. People who are in the care-link system can get quality medical care in San Antonio, including access to the best hospitals, surgeons and therapists. If you get a settlement, you will need to pay a much larger share of your medical bills, but care link will allow you to receive the treatment you need and will keep you at the low monthly bill until your case is settled.