One of the first things that people worry about after they have been injured is “How or who will pay my medical bills?” The answer might surprise you.
According to Texas and Oklahoma law, the insurance company that insures the person who injured you does NOT have to pay for your medical treatment until you are ready to settle your case. Since you should not settle your case until you have recovered from your injuries and know whether you will need future medical treatment, this leaves most people in a bind. What do they do between the time they are injured and the time they are ready to settle their case – especially since this gap may be months or even years?
If you were injured as a result of an automobile collision (regardless of who was driving or was at fault) or a car hit you while you were a pedestrian or riding your bicycle, your Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) in Texas, Medical Payments (“MedPay”) in Oklahoma, insurance should pay your bills. Everyone who has a car should have Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance (if you live in Texas) and Medical Payments (“MedPay”) if you live in Oklahoma. If you do not have PIP insurance (Texas), MedPay (Oklahoma) (or if you aren’t sure whether you have it), RUN, don’t walk, to the phone and call your insurance agent!! PIP (Texas) and MedPay (Oklahoma) insurance is one of the best types of insurance you can purchase. There are different levels of insurance you can purchase. We strongly recommend that you purchase at least $10,000 worth of PIP insurance.
PIP (Texas) and MedPay (Oklahoma) are extremely inexpensive and will pay for your medical treatment if you are injured as the result of an automobile collision, regardless of who was driving and regardless of who was at fault. Unlike health insurance, there is no deductible, no co-pay, no-preauthorization requirement, and you can choose your own healthcare providers. The only requirements are that (1) the treatment is received within three years from the date of the collision; (2) the treatment is provided by a licensed healthcare provider; (3) the cost of the treatment is reasonable; and (4) the treatment is necessary to treat injuries you suffered as a result of the collision. In addition, in Texas, PIP provides a small reimbursement for funeral expenses, lost wages, and loss of services (childcare, lawn care, household care, etc.).
If you do not have PIP or MedPay insurance or were injured as a result of something other than an automobile incident, your health insurance should pay your medical bills. However, you will have to pay your deductible and co-pays when you receive your medical treatment. In addition, your health insurer may require that you reimburse it if you settle your injury case and receive money from your settlement In some cases, your health insurer is entitled to demand that you pay for 100% of the benefits it paid, regardless of whether you are fully compensated for your injuries. For this reason alone, it is important that you purchase PIP or MedPay insurance so that you can use that if you are injured as the result of an automobile collision.
If you are injured at someone’s home or on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for limited payment of medical bills under the property owner’s liability insurance, even before your case is settled. Most property owners automatically carry something known as “Med Pay” (this is different than the Oklahoma MedPay on automobile policies). This insurance will usually pay for a relatively small amount (often $5,000) of medical treatment if you are injured on someone else’s property. However, receiving these benefits is not an admission of fault by the property owner.
If you do not have insurance, getting medical care is difficult. Each person’s situation is different. There are a few compassionate Doctors who will wait on payment or take what is called a “letter of protection.” One doctor told us he began accepting letters of protection only after his adult daughter who lived in a different state lost her job and her insurance coverage. She was in a wreck with a drunk driver. He saw how difficult it was for her to get medical care. He said he then decided that he would take a limited number of letters of protection to help deserving people get at least minimal care.