It sounds innocent enough, but those four words can cost you thousands of dollars at the end of your Chicago car accident case. Let’s explain ….
If you have health insurance, your doctor has probably signed an agreement with your health insurer where he agrees to treat everyone who is covered by your health insurance for a discounted amount. Many times, you will get bills in and see that a large portion of your bill was written off because of your health insurance, that your health insurance made a payment to your doctor, and that after the write off and the payment, you have only a small balance left to pay yourself.
From the standpoint of the doctor, this means that he receives only a small payment on the full amount that was billed. In practice, a doctor may issue a bill for $1,000 and receive cash payments from you and your health insurer that may amount to $400, and this represents payment in full of the $1,000 bill for services. In practice, doctors, hospitals, and health care providers almost never get paid the full amount they bill for services.
When a doctor says, “We’ll bill the accident,” what this means is that they will take steps to get paid from either your medical payments coverage (if any is available) or put a lien on the settlement of your case. When a doctor or hospital puts a lien on the settlement of your case, that means that they have a legal right to be paid out of the settlement proceeds of your case. In fact, if they notify the other driver’s liability insurance carrier, they will often put the doctor’s name on your settlement check as a payee.
What difference does it make to you?
When a doctor puts a lien on your settlement, he may have a right to be paid the full amount that he billed, even if you have health insurance. This means that if he issues a bill for $1,000, he may have a right to be paid the full $1,000, even though he would have received cash payments of $400 had the bill been submitted to your health insurance. Guess where the $600 difference comes from? It comes out of your pocket.
There are many reasons that the phrase, “We’ll bill the accident,” are words that you do not want to hear, including:
- It will almost always end up costing you more money to receive care, sometimes significantly more money;
Your doctor is trying to profit off the fact that you were involved in an accident; and
- Your doctor is cheating you out of the benefits of the health insurance that you worked for.
The bottom line is this: you open yourself up to substantial abuse when you agree to have a doctor “bill the accident” when you have health insurance. Not only can it cost you thousands of dollars out of your own pocket, but you may be subjected to more expensive (and perhaps unneeded) medical care than you would otherwise.
Good for them, bad for you.
The best way to protect your financial interests when your doctor or a hospital try to “bill the accident” and line their pockets at your expense is to hire an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer. One service that we provide is to minimze the amounts paid to health insurers and health care providers so that our clients put as much money in their pockets as possible when their cases is over.
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