If you’re injured in a car accident in Georgia, you’re probably wondering who should pay for your medical bills: the other driver’s insurance or your health insurance.

One of the services we provide as car accidents attorneys is helping our clients make sure that their medical bills are billed to the appropriate source.  This helps minimize the amount of the bills and maximizes our clients’ recovery.  Here’s a guide to how your medical bills should be paid after an accident.  If you have additional questions, call for a free consultation.

Always Bill Your Health Insurance

If you have health insurance, make sure the hospital and doctors are billing your health insurance.  Do not let the doctors or hospitals bill the other driver’s insurance.  As we’ll explain below, you want to make sure that your health insurance is paying ALL of your bills.

Use Medical Payments Coverage

Many car insurance policies have medical payments coverage.  Typical amounts of medical payments coverage range from $1,000 to $10,000.  You can use the medical payments coverage to pay for hospital and doctor bills from an accident.  If possible, use your health insurance instead of your medical payments coverage.  You can then use your medical payments coverage to get reimbursed for co-pays and deductibles.  If you have to repay your health insurance for your medical bills that it’s paid, you can use your medical payments coverage to do so.

Why bill your health insurance instead of the other driver’s insurance?

The other driver caused the accident, so it only seems fair that their insurance should pay your medical bills instead of your health insurance, right?

Wrong.

The other driver’s insurance will not pay your medical bills as they come in.  They will only pay for them when the entire case is settled.  When a doctor or hospital says they are billing the other driver’s insurance, they are really filing a medical lien against your settlement or verdict.  This means that you have to pay the doctor or hospital the entire amount of your medical bill.

Your health insurance pays a “contracted rate” to doctors and hospitals for treating you.  The contracted rate that your health insurance pays is much lower than the amount of your medical bill.  For instance, if the hospital bills you $1,000, your health insurance will pay $500 and your hospital bill will be satisfied.

When you settle your case you may have to repay your health insurance the $500 it paid to the hospital, but that’s much better than paying the entire $1,000 bill.

Georgia personal injury law allows you to make your personal injury claim based on the amount of your medical bills, not the amount your health insurance has paid.  So if you have a total of $25,000 in medical bills and your health insurance has paid $10,000, you make your claim based on the $25,000 in medical bills.  You may have to repay your health insurance the $10,000 it’s paid, but you keep the $15,000 difference.

If you have health insurance, don’t let your attorney have you treat on a medical lien

Some attorneys will have your doctors treat you on a medical lien instead of billing your health insurance.  If you have health insurance, there is virtually no reason your attorney should be doing this.  You need to have a serious conversation with the attorney about why they are doing so and possibly seek other representation.  Treating on a medical lien increases the amount you’ll have to pay to resolve your medical bills and decreases how much of your settlement you keep.

However, if you don’t have health insurance and need additional medical treatment it’s perfectly fine to treat on a medical lien.  It may be the only way you can get the medical care you need.

What if I don’t have health insurance?

If you don’t have health insurance or medical payments coverage to pay your medical bills, this is a tough spot to be in.  You can pay your medical bills out of a settlement or a win at trial, but that may be months away.

Contact the billing department and explain that you don’t have insurance but that you want to pay the bills out of your settlement.  Some doctors and hospitals will agree to that.  If they don’t, ask if you can work out a payment plan that will let you make monthly payments until your case settles or goes to trial.  Once your case is settled, we’ll negotiate with the hospitals and doctors to get them to reduce the amount of your bills that you owe, leaving you with more of your settlement.