After suffering a personal injury, you need to pay for immediate medical treatment. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you may eventually recover compensation for your medical bills, but this can sometimes take a long time. Before that settlement payment arrives, there are various ways to receive proper medical treatment even if you lack health insurance. Let’s look at your treatment financing options in Buffalo, TX, Cameron, TX, or anywhere else in the state.
Paying for Medical Bills From a Personal Injury Without Health Insurance
Immediately following an accident, it’s important to seek emergency medical care right away. Not only may this save your life, but it also provides evidence and hospital records relating to your injury. Your attorney will later need these records to strengthen your personal injury claim against whoever was responsible for your injuries.
Fortunately, hospitals are required to treat and stabilize anyone who has an emergency injury, regardless of their insurance status. So if you lack health insurance, you can still receive emergency medical care. Complications arise once you’ve been treated and released from the emergency care department, and you need to find a way to continue your treatment, either at the same hospital or elsewhere.
Why Proving Liability May Delay Your Claim
When it comes to car accidents, Texas is an at-fault state. This means that you have a right to recover compensation from the other driver for your medical expenses, provided that the other driver can be proven to have caused the accident. The problem is that proving the other driver’s liability may take a few months or sometimes even longer. Your attorney may even need to file a lawsuit and take the defendant to court before you finally receive a payout.
Until the eventual settlement payout, you need to find a way to pay for your medical expenses. The same problem applies to any kind of personal injury accident, be it a slip-and-fall accident, a product liability injury, or a medical malpractice case. You must find a way to receive adequate treatment while you wait for your attorney to successfully prove liability and resolve your claim.
Insurance Coverage vs Deferred Payments
You have two broad options for financing your hospital stays or doctor’s visits without health insurance. The first option is to seek some degree of medical expense coverage from another kind of insurer. This may include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or MedPay insurance if you were injured in a car accident. And for any accident type, you might be eligible for retroactive enrollment in Medicaid or Medicare.
Another option may be to arrange a deferred payment plan with a medical provider. Here, a medical provider may agree to treat you and only charge you out of the final settlement when you win your personal injury case. But this contingency payment arrangement is somewhat risky for the medical provider, and coming to such an agreement will often depend on the strength of your claim.
Your Potential Insurance Coverage Options
First, we’ll look at the insurance coverage options you might have. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you evaluate which of the following could work for you.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
If you were injured in a car accident, you may have PIP insurance. In Buffalo, TX, Cameron, TX, and everywhere else in Texas, it’s mandatory for drivers to have PIP insurance unless they’ve signed a waiver to decline it. PIP insurance is first-party insurance that covers medical bills, lost wages, and some other limited damages in the event of a car crash, no matter who caused the accident.
PIP insurance will have been offered to you when you took out your auto insurance. By law, every driver must be offered at least $2,500 of PIP coverage, although drivers typically opt for $5,000 or $10,000 of coverage. If your injuries are not too severe, your PIP coverage may be enough to cover your medical treatment until a settlement arrives from the at-fault driver’s insurer.
An alternative to PIP insurance is Medical Payments Coverage, also known as MedPay insurance. MedPay only covers past medical bills and is even less extensive than PIP coverage, with typical $2,500 payout limits. Once again, if you only have relatively minor injuries from an auto accident, this may be enough to cover your medical treatment.
Retroactive Enrollment With Medicaid
If you have neither PIP nor MedPay insurance, or their coverage isn’t enough for the total cost of your treatment, you may be eligible for retroactive enrollment with Medicaid. Medicaid finances health coverage for individuals with limited income and resources. And retroactive enrollment with Medicaid may cover any treatment costs you’ve received during the preceding two months.
This two-month deadline means you need to apply with the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) as soon as you can. But it’s important to know that your acceptance to retroactive Medicaid enrollment isn’t a given. You must meet certain eligibility requirements and have received treatment from a contracted Medicaid healthcare provider.
Retroactive Enrollment With Medicare
If you’re over the age of 65, you may likewise be eligible for retroactive enrollment with Medicare. Retroactive coverage with Medicare may cover treatment costs for up to six months preceding your application, which is a considerably longer timeframe. But once again, you’ll need to meet the eligibility criteria.
Deferred Payment Plans With Medical Providers
Just as personal injury lawyers almost always represent their clients on a contingency fee basis, some healthcare providers are happy to do the same. Whatever kind of treatment you need, you may find a healthcare provider who will agree to a deferred payment plan. In these cases, the medical provider will often agree to treat you provided that they can recoup their costs of treatment out of your final settlement payout once your personal injury case is resolved.
This kind of agreement will usually be made legally binding with a medical lien, giving the medical provider a legal claim on a portion of your settlement. Medical liens can be a fantastic solution for injured accident victims facing potential financial hardship or bankruptcy while struggling to pay their medical bills out of pocket. But not all medical providers are willing to take the risk of a medical lien; if you lose your personal injury case, they receive nothing either.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You in Buffalo, TX, or Cameron, TX
Personal injury attorneys are often familiar with helping accident victims who lack health insurance. Experienced attorneys have databases of local specialist medical providers who are open to treating patients on the contingency fee basis of a medical lien. An attorney is best suited to discuss your case with these medical providers and seek to arrange a deferred payment structure that suits all parties.
And if you’re a possible candidate for retroactive Medicaid or another insurance option, your attorney can also help you with applying and filing claims. All the while, they can offer you guidance on your personal injury claim against the individual or company that caused your injury. They can file the claim for you, establish your damages, gather evidence to strengthen your claim, and negotiate hard to win you full and fair compensation in as short a timeframe as possible.
If you’d like an award-winning Texan personal injury lawyer to work with you on a “no win, no fee” basis, contact Brian C. Gutierrez at (979) 364 5346. In your free initial consultation, Brian can evaluate your case and help you understand your best legal and financing options.