I have no health insurance but I am in pain and need treatment. What are my options?
Unfortunately many of our clients are injured at a time when they were uninsured, so this is a fairly common question. Many, if not most of our uninsured clients come to us after trying unsuccessfully to have the insurance company for the other driver pay for their medical expenses. Some have limited success, a few bills are paid, others are not. Most, however, encounter empty assurances of payment, only to find the insurance company is dragging its heals. They find that getting through to the insurance adjuster becomes increasingly difficult. The sad truth is that while the other driver's insurance company is legally required to pay your accident-related medical bills (if the other driver is at fault for the accident), it is NOT required to pay for those bills when you receive them. Except in fairly rare instances involving what are usually relatively small claims, the other driver's insurance company will almost always decline to pay medical expenses until a case is ready to be resolved as part of a comprehensive settlement, i.e., at the end of the case when your injuries have reached maximum improvement.
Because of that, we immediately seek to obtain "medical payments" coverage for our clients so that at least some of their medical expenses are paid. Medical payments coverage is coverage that almost all drivers have in their automobile insurance policy that is specifically designed to reimburse people injured in an accident, regardless of fault. Because this insurance coverage must be provided regardless of fault, the other driver's insurance company has less justification to withhold payment. Medical payments coverage amounts can vary widely (from $1,000 to $100,000 or more), so it is very important to find out what the exact amount of coverage is. Our firm has an excellent track record of obtaining medical payments coverage for our clients.
Another option available for many of our clients is having their medical expenses paid by MaineCare and Medicare. While you may not qualify for Mainecare or Medicare before an accident, depending on the severity of your injuries and the extent of your disability, you may find that you are now eligible for coverage. Our paralegals routinely provide assistance to clients seeking to obtain coverage through Mainecare and Medicare.
Yet another option for obtaining medical treatment while uninsured is to negotiate with health care providers to provide treatment based on assurances that payment will be made out of any future settlement of your claim. While some health care providers are not willing to provide services on these terms, many are, provided they receive a letter (usually from the attorney handling the patient's personal jury case) that the medical bills will be paid out of any settlement. We have found that physical therapists are more receptive to this type of arrangement than other health care providers, but we have been able to successfully negotiate deferred payment arrangements with providers in other healthcare fields.
If you have questions about how to get your accident-related medical bills paid, feel free to give us a call.