Drake Law Firm has seen a disturbing trend in Alabama over the past 10 years where hospitals refuse to bill health insurance in auto accident cases. The process goes something like this: You are in a car crash and transported by ambulance or private vehicle to the hospital. At the intake desk in the emergency room, they ask for your health insurance card (Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, etc.). They make a photostatic copy of it and hand it back to you. You provide the history of being in a car wreck. They then proceed to treat you in the ER or admit you to the hospital, depending on the severity of your injuries. Several months later, the hospital or their debt collection company send you a letter, stating that they have filed a lien and you owe them the full amount of the hospital bill. You are obviously perplexed as to why they did not bill your insurance. Unfortunately, this has become an all-to-common practice by hospitals. Why?
To understand why, you’ll need to understand how health insurance billing works. Typical health insurance companies have written agreements with hospitals to provide coverage. The provider treats the insured, then the health insurance company is billed. But, the insurer only pays a portion (often about one-third) of the bill and the rest is adjusted or “written off”. This normal procedure, however, is often bypassed when it is a car accident. In this case there is usually a liability carrier for the at-fault driver. The hospital reasons that they will make more money not billing the health insurance and instead, billing the full amount to you so it can be paid from your injury settlement.
To avoid this deceptive practice, we encourage our clients to send the bill directly to their health insurance, effectively “going around” the hospital’s greedy attempt to exploit the patient’s injury claim. Once paid by the patient’s insurer, the hospital is contractually obligated to void their lien.
If this scam has happened to you, call Drake Law Firm today to see what options you might have.