When car accident victims come into the hospital to treat their injuries, they’re in a vulnerable state. Many suffer from head injuries that cloud their judgement, or they’re suffering from immense pain from broken bones or other damages. Even when they try to use their insurance to ensure their bills are covered, the hospital might choose to try to make the patient fully responsible for paying for the treatment they’re receiving.
Unfortunately, this tactic isn’t always illegal even though it seems like it should be. A century-old lien law allows the hospital to do this, especially if the patient is mentally incapacitated and signs a waiver that says they don’t want their insurance billed. In many cases, hospitals do this to patients with Medicaid, which means the patient is established as having a low income and can’t afford the full-priced bill.
When the hospital decides not to bill the patient’s insurance, this enables them to bill them and put a lien against one of their assets. This allows the hospital to bill the patient for the full cost of their treatments, compared to the discounts they would have gotten if their insurance had been billed.
For example, a woman with Medicaid went to a hospital in Indiana after being hurt in a car accident. She showed her insurance card when she spent three days in Parkview Regional Medical Center. However, the hospital didn’t bill her insurance. What would have cost her $2,500 and would have been covered by her insurance, now costs her nearly $13,000 and must be paid out of pocket.
These liens can be used against patients in the courts to garnish their wages and allow hospitals to take their homes when they can’t repay their medical bills. Originally, these lien laws were created when less than 10 percent of Americans had health insurance and were created to protect hospitals from treating patients who weren’t likely to pay them back.
Now, hospitals use these laws to their advantage to get the most money possible from their patients. When they take advantage of patients and send them astronomical healthcare bills, and put them against their settlement, wages, house, or car, it forces many patients to go into debt.
The hospitals know that these patients are already low-income and use that as assurance that they won’t be able to fight back. These methods make hospitals millions of dollars each year, and they go unchecked because most of the time what they’re doing is technically legal. That’s why it’s important to hire a lawyer when you’ve suffered from the wrongdoing of a hospital.
At McMath Woods P.A., our firm sees situations like these and has experience dealing with these types of cases. We’ll fight to get you the justice you deserve after being wronged by a hospital like this. Contact our office today so we can get started helping you right away.