How Should I pay My Medical Bills After an Accident?
After an accident many people wonder, “what is the best way to pay for my medical bills?” At Cook, Bradford & Levy, our Boulder personal injury attorneys have extensive experience resolving injury claims, and when it comes to non-work-related injury claims we generally follow one simple rule: if you have health insurance – use it.
The reason we think it is a good idea to use your health insurance to pay for accident-related medical bills is that by doing so you will almost always end up putting more money in your pocket when it comes time to resolve your case.
The principle allowing injured victims to keep more of their financial recovery when they finally resolve their claims is rooted in Colorado’s tort and subrogation laws. Because our Boulder personal injury lawyers are writing this article with the lay-person in mind, we will not delve into the details of subrogation law today.
From a big picture standpoint, however, Colorado tort law does not allow a careless or negligent person to reduce their liability, or pay less for their bad acts, simply because the person they hurt had the foresight to purchase health insurance. Similarly, Colorado subrogation law allows a person who paid for their accident-related medical treatment with health insurance to take advantage of the reduced prices that their health insurance carrier like Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, or United Healthcare was able to negotiate with their medical providers. The term for the savings health insurers negotiate with medical providers is often known as a “contract benefit.”So How Do You Keep More of Your Financial Recovery?
An experienced Boulder personal injury attorney knows that Colorado’s “Collateral Source Rule” allows an injured victim to claim the amount of the bills they incurred for accident-related medical treatment before any adjustment by health insurance. As noted earlier, this is so that the careless or negligent person (known as a tortfeasor) does not get to benefit or reduce his liability for simply because the person he or she injured has health insurance. The Collateral Source Rule also supports the principle that someone who buys health insurance get the full benefit of what he or she pays for.
To illustrate the Collateral Source Rule, if you were charged $3,500 for an MRI, and pursuant to its contract with the MRI provider your health insurance was able to pay off the bill for only $1,000, you are still entitled to claim the full value of the $3,500 bill in settlement negotiations or at trial. A knowledgeable Boulder personal injury lawyer understands that this is commonly referred to as the concept of “billed versus paid.” The difference between what you were billed and what was paid for the bill goes directly in your pocket, which is in this example is $2,500 ($3,500 billed - $1,000 paid = $2,500). The value of using health insurance to pay for your medical bills is amplified as the amount of your medical bills increases. For example, if you have $50,000 in accident-related medical bills and your health insurance paid them off for $10,000, then your benefit for using health insurance is $40,000, and so on.
Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC are Boulder personal injury attorneys with decades of experience maximizing injury settlements and verdicts for our clients. We understand that the law is complex, and you may need help getting answers to the unique issues you are facing. If you have questions about how to maximize your recovery in your case, we invite you to call us today at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation about how we might be able to help you.