Following a Colorado car accident, you may be wondering how you will be able to afford medical treatment? While health insurance is a perfectly reasonable means of treating, if you do not have health insurance, your options may be limited. If you were injured with no health insurance, one option for treatment is a medical lien.
What is a Medical Lien After a Colorado Car Accident?
A medical lien is a contract between a personal injury victim and a medical provider to seek reimbursement for services directly from a personal injury settlement. When a person is injured in a Colorado car accident without health insurance, a medical lien is a helpful way to receive medical treatment without incurring upfront costs or coming out of pocket. Basically, the executed agreement outlines the fact the lien will be paid out of the proceeds of the personal injury settlement. Upon receipt of a signed medical agreement, the medical provider may perfect the lien by notifying all interested parties. By perfecting the lien, the medical provider is establishing their right to payment out of the proceeds of the personal injury settlement or verdict.
How Does a Medical Lien Work?
Typically, a medical lien allows providers to seek full payment for medical treatment incurred by the injured party, regardless of the amount of the settlement or verdict. However, on September 7, 2021, the Colorado Medical lien Statute was enacted, helping to address instances where a settlement or verdict may not be enough to cover the amount of the medical lien. The Statute provides certain benefits and protections to an injured party as it relates to medical liens, including:
- Before a medical lien is created, the injured party must be informed of other payment methods including Health Insurance and/or Worker’s Compensation.
- The medical lien cannot be assigned to a collections agency.
- If there is no settlement or jury verdict, the medical provider cannot attempt to collect any portion of the medical lien from the injured party.
- If the settlement or jury verdict is less the amount of the medical lien, the injured party is not responsible for any lien amount greater than the settlement.
- Medical liens are not admissible as evidence in trial.
Medical Providers & Medical Liens
Medical providers in Colorado should be aware of the medical lien Statute and be knowledgeable in how to effectuate a medical lien that is compliance with the statutory requirements. In doing so, the medical provider helps to protect both the injured party and the medical lien it creates.
Medical liens, therefore, reduce the amount of the injured party will receive as the medical provider is entitled to payment of the medical lien amount even before the injured party receives any funds. In certain circumstances, medical liens can delay the disbursement of settlement proceeds, a fact personal injury victims should be aware of when executing a medical lien.
Health Insurance After a Colorado Car Accident
Generally, if you have health insurance, including a Health Plan, Medicare or Medicaid, a medical lien for treatment is not always advisable to treat after a Colorado car accident. When utilizing health insurance, the medical provider will submit medical bills to the victim’s health insurance to be paid contractual rates and adjustments. The victim who uses health insurance remains responsible for certain, such as co-pays and deductibles.
In turn, the health insurance carrier will have a right to subrogation, or the right to reimbursement for funds advanced to you due to the fault of a third party. Importantly, the health insurance carrier is only entitled to subrogation is there is a personal injury settlement, and in certain circumstances that amount can be reduced if not waived in its entirety. When considered as a whole, the amounts an injured party may owe under health insurance, will typically be less that what would be owed to a medical provider who holds a medical lien.
Medical Payments Coverage After a Colorado Car Accident
If you carry Medical Payments Coverage on your auto policy, you may consider using this coverage before considering a medical lien. Medical Payments Coverage provides coverage for all reasonable medical expenses you incur after being injured in a Colorado car accident, regardless of who caused the accident.
How Does Medical Payments Coverage Work?
This coverage is specific to your automobile policy and covers all drivers within your household as well as any passengers in your car or persons permitted to use your car. As of 2009, all Colorado insurance carriers are required to offer a $5,000.00 Med-Pay policy to each person who applies for an automobile insurance policy or obtain a rejection of Med-Pay. In order to decline Med-Pay, you must sign a rejection form explicitly indicating you do not want such coverage.
If you are considering a medical lien and do not have Health Insurance, you should inquire into whether or not your automobile policy carries this coverage. If you do carry Medical Payments Coverage, you can use this coverage to cover the cost of medical bills before considering a Medical lien to help minimize the overall effects to your personal injury settlement.
Contact a Colorado Car Accident Law Firm
If you are considering a medical lien, you should consult the Colorado car accident law firm Bowman Law to evaluate your options and discuss if a medical lien is right for you.
Jessica is a Colorado native. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Colorado as well as the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. Jessica is an active member of the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, and American Association for Justice.