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Getting Medical Care After a Car Wreck

You’ve been in a wreck. You’re injured. You need medical care. The doctor’s office says they won’t accept your health insurance, and the auto insurance company for the at-fault driver won’t pay your medical bills (or maybe they won’t even return your calls). What do you do?

Here are some options that you should consider.

Health Insurance: If you have health insurance coverage, you should use it. Unfortunately, several of Albuquerque’s HMO plans (Presbyterian, Lovelace and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NM) are now refusing to pay for medical care following a car wreck. Most plans will still pay for the ambulance and the emergency room, but follow up care is usually restricted. Some health plans just push prescription drugs rather than physical therapy and other treatment. You’ll still be responsible for deductibles and co-pays associated with your plan, but it sure beats having to pay the whole amount out of pocket! Remember, all plans require you to reimburse them from any settlement proceeds.

Letters of Protection: You’ll need a lawyer for this. A Letter of Protection (“LOP”) is an agreement made with the doctor’s office by your lawyer and you promising to pay the bill from the settlement proceeds. Doctors are not required to accept LOPs, but many doctors will do so. Meet with me to get my list of most local medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, dentists, psychologists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, medical massage therapists, MRI’s, and others who accept LOP’s. This means that you won’t pay any money out of your pocket at each visit, and you won’t get any bills until you get a settlement. These doctors agree to wait to get paid from the settlement and don’t charge any interest while waiting to get paid. There is no reason why you shouldn’t find a health care provider to treat your injuries, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t get the best medical care possible. After all, you did not cause the wreck, and the at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for your medical care.

Med Pay:  You may have Medical Payments Coverage (“Med Pay”) on your own auto insurance policy. This coverage typically provides benefits of $2,000. Med Pay can be assigned to medical providers so the doctor’s office can bill your own auto insurance company up to the amount of your coverage limit. You should consult me before using Med Pay because there may be strategic reasons to use the coverage for some bills but not for others. Remember, your Med Pay plan requires you to reimburse your own insurance company from any settlement proceeds. However, I can usually negotiate a significant discount when your case is resolved.

Medicaid & Other Government Benefits: If you already receive Medicaid, Medicare or other government benefits before your wreck, then you should be able to use that coverage for your injuries. It is also possible you may qualify for government benefits after the wreck. In that case, Medicaid may actually go back and pay all of your medical bills from the date of the wreck. Keep in mind, all government benefits require repayment when you recover money in your case. However, I can usually negotiate a significant discount when your case is resolved.

Pay As You Go: This is the option of last resort if you don’t have insurance coverage available and you don’t want to issue a LOP.

Call Jonathan A. Garcia at Garcia Legal for a free consultation after your car accident.

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