Georgia residents, have you ever wondered what would happen if you got into an accident but didn’t have insurance? What if you go bankrupt trying to pay off the medical bills on top of everything else you already have to cover? This is where a medical lien comes into play because sometimes you may not be at fault in an accident where you were injured, but you’re still obligated to pay for your medical bills.
A medical lien is a legally binding agreement between the patient and the healthcare provider. By placing a request on the victim’s injury claim, the medical provider can regain the money owed for their treatment that the victim cannot pay.
What Types of Medical Liens Are There?
A hospital lien is one of the types of medical liens that exist. The patient provides a lien on the case proceedings, and the healthcare organization provides the patient with the medical treatment as if it were on “credit.” Once the case is settled, the provider can recoup the treatment costs.
The medical provider may request a lien letter be signed by the patient, which ensures that you agree to submit a lien against future personal injury cases. In the case of another settlement, the patient must stand by a set of strict regulations to be considered valid.
Another type of medical lien is a government lien. This includes all the government-provided benefits offered to millions of residents in the nation, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, and more. After you have gone through an accident resulting in personal injury litigation, the government can exercise its right to retrieve the money used for your treatments.
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Who Gets Paid First?
Once the settlement has been resolved, one would expect that the injured person be the one that is paid first. There is a first step called “perfecting the lien.” Once the contract is signed, the healthcare provider will send a notice of debt to everyone involved in the settlement.
This notice helps to guarantee that the lien holder (the medical provider) will be the one that gets their share of the settlement first.
If I Have Insurance, Do I Need a Medical Lien?
For those that don’t have any form of medical insurance and therefore have no way to cover their treatment costs, medical liens are a form of help for them. But those with insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other form of health coverage where their medical bills are taken care of do not generally need to rely on placing a medical lien.
Nevertheless, the injured may still find that a big part of their settlement will get taken from them not by the hospital but by their insurance company. This is referred to as subrogation, the legal process where the insurance company will stand in for the plaintiff to recover from the defendant what it has already paid or will pay to them. In this situation, the medical bills will be covered by their insurer. So, because of subrogation, a medical lien is typically used only in instances where the plaintiff has no health coverage.
Can the Terms of the Contract Be Negotiated?
Thankfully, as with any other type of contract, medical liens can be negotiated, and it’s important to know your options here. Medical providers, however, are not always open to negotiating the terms, neither before nor after the medical lien agreement is signed. Healthcare providers see negotiation as a messy hassle, and they do not want to be tangled up.
However, a provider considers a few things before deciding whether to negotiate. If the patient cannot pay back what was agreed on regarding the medical lien terms, the provider will most likely see themselves in court with that patient in an attempt to get the money. This would be very time-consuming for an already very busy doctor and they might also have to send the patient to collections, resulting in less money for them.
To avoid dealing with the above, the medical provider may agree to negotiate. However, it’s never obligated. Depending on the situation, a victim may find it easier to find another medical provider more willing to negotiate.
A different doctor may lead to more favorable terms, after all. It’s crucial to remember that these terms can be negotiated even after the contract has already been signed. With an excellent attorney by your side, a negotiation can result in a reduced amount of what you owe or a payment plan that allows you the flexibility to pay everything back over time.
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Should I Always Contact an Attorney to Negotiate the Medical Lien?
Sometimes, the injured party decides to try and negotiate the terms with their medical provider alone. This is not recommended since there are many terminologies they might not be familiar with. They could end up negotiating to favor the medical provider more without realizing it.
It’s also important to consider that your attorney still needs to take a portion of the settlement for their fee. Knowing this, the attorney will be able to better negotiate the terms so that the plaintiff ends up with a more favorable outcome, even after the attorney’s fee is retrieved from the settlement.
What if the Victim Loses the Case?
If the plaintiff loses the case, they will still be responsible for their healthcare bills and need to fully pay the healthcare provider back. Unfortunately, it does not matter if the victim has no health insurance or funds to pay. The medical provider can take the injured party to court and collections.
Nevertheless, as mentioned before, it is possible to renegotiate the terms if worse comes to worst.
Silver Dollar Financial Wants to Help You Understand
Georgia, it is terrifying to find yourself in a situation where you have no health insurance or funds to cover your health bills. At Silver Dollar Financial, we want to ensure you understand all these tricky terms and know all your options. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our office or fill out our contact form.