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Posted on 12-04-2016

Financial Considerations Following Baltimore Auto Accident Injuries

As my avid blog followers are already aware, I am a Baltimore Chiropractor that spends the majority of my clinic time treating patients who have suffered injuries as a result of Baltimore auto accidents. Typically these injured patients suffer from acute post-traumatic headaches, neck pain, back pain, and in some instances radiating arm and/or leg pain. I focus most of my blog posts on how we diagnose and treat injured patients. In this post I thought I would shift the discussion to the financial end of Baltimore auto accidents. That is, if you are unfortunately injured, who pays for your treatment? What options are available for people with and without health insurance? We are asked these questions everyday in our office so I thought it would be appropriate to address financial options in my latest blog post. So, in no particular order, here are the options available to any patient injured in a Baltimore car accident that they can choose to pay for services rendered while they are receiving treatment:

  1. Cash (self pay) – Injured parties can pay for services rendered out of pocket. A bill of services provided can be produced weekly and the injured party can pay out of pocket. The advantage of this system of payment is that medical bills will not “pile up” as they are being paid as they are accrued. The disadvantage is that based on the extent of an injury several weeks of therapy can become very expensive very quickly. Few patients have the financial resources to pay for services out of pocket. Some patients find this method unappealing, especially if they did not cause the crash, but instead, were injured as a result of another parties negligence. In the eight or so years that I've been a licensed Chiropractor I can only remember a hand full of patients that chose to pay cash for their treatment following an injury.
  2. Health Insurance – Injured parties can pay for services rendered using their health insurance coverage following a Baltimore auto accident injury.  This office is in network with many leading health insurance companies. Just like what happens when you visit your family doctor, our staff can verify your health insurance benefits and let you know what copay, deductible, or other financial responsibilities that you may have. The advantage of this system of payment is that medical bills do not “pile up” as they are being paid as they are accrued. The disadvantage of this system of payment is that our office may not be in network with your particular health insurance. Further, a copay will be due on each visit and several weeks of copays can add up very quickly. Depending on whether or not you have met your deductible in your plan, you may owe additional money out of pocket before your insurance "kicks in." Finally, any monies paid to your healthcare providers following an auto accident injury will need to be paid back to the health insurance company in the case of an at-fault third party driver.
  3. PIP (Personal Injury Protection) – Injured parties can pay for services rendered using PIP coverage available on their automobile insurance policy. Unlike health insurance that requires providers to be “in network” PIP coverage is available to help pay for any treatment that is related to an automobile accident injury. This includes but is not limited to hospital visits, ambulance rides, x-rays, CT scans, chiropractic care and physical therapy. Our office staff is well trained in how to help you open a PIP claim and how to obtain a claim number to help facilitate payment on your behalf. The advantage of this system of payment is that there are no copays and no deductibles. The injured party does not have to pay any money out of pocket to open the claim. Furthermore, non-faulted auto accident injury patients can open PIP claims and can use their benefits without their insurance rates rising. The disadvantages of using PIP to pay for care is that some people in an effort to save money when they purchase automobile insurance neglect to pay for this coverage and as such do not have this benefit available to them. Often times it is not until after someone has been injured in a Baltimore auto accident that they realize that they neglected to pay for PIP coverage. This is why reviewing your auto insurance declarations every year is very important.
  4. Third Party Lien – Injured parties can pay for their treatment under an agreement called a third party lien. This form of payment arrangement is only available to non-faulted auto accident injury patients. In essence these injured patients can choose to represent themselves and their own self-interest in securing a settlement/judgement from the faulted third-party insurance company. This means that it is their responsibility to receive all necessary treatment, collect all medical bills, and to present these bills and records on their own behalf to an insurance company once they are done treating for their injuries. The advantage of this form of payment arrangement is that injured parties can receive treatment without any payment up front. This allows them to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible without any financial disturbances due to an unforeseen crash.  The disadvantage of this arrangement is the headaches that it typically produces for those that choose to go this route. Injured parties have to continue to live their normal lives, work, and carve out time for treatment all the while they are receiving countless phone calls, messages, and demands from claims adjustors. While it is possible to successfully navigate a third party lien, most patients ultimately decide that it is too stressful to live their normal lives and to play the role of “representative” and ultimately many decide to hire a professional personal injury attorney instead.
  5. Personal Injury Attorney – Injured parties can pay for their treatment by hiring a personal injury attorney to represent their interests. The attorney’s job is to handle all aspects of an injury claim on behalf of a patient so that they can focus on physical and emotional recovery and not have to deal with the paperwork and phone calls that it takes to successfully navigate a personal injury claim. In essence, compared to the example of a third party lien, the attorney and their staff will handle everything on behalf of an injured client, including paying the providers involved in the care of the injured party. All the client needs to do is receive their necessary treatment and to let the attorney know once they are completely healed. The advantage of hiring a personal injury attorney is in their expertise and their financial value. As dedicated professionals that spend in excess of 40 hours a week fighting insurance companies, they know the “tricks of the trade” and which pitfalls to avoid to help you settle your claim quickly and fairly. Furthermore, they have years of experience that help them to determine what a fair value is for your injury claim. They typically bring to the case way more value than they charge a client in fees. Typically, consultations with attorneys are at no cost and with no obligation. If an attorney decides that he wants to represent you and to take your case, his or her fee is contingent. This means that until or unless you win your case, you will not owe the law office any money. Given the many advantages associated with hiring a personal injury attorney, it is no surprise that the majority of injured clients decide to go this route. The disadvantage of hiring an attorney is that in some instances, cases may take longer to settle than some patients would like. That is, since they know case values and the law, personal injury attorneys sometimes have to take time to help bring about the best resolution of a complaint for their clients.

Paying for care following an auto accident injury does not need to be confusing or scary. While our primary obligation to an injured patient is to get them well quickly, it is important to better understand the best financial choice in your particular case so that there are no surprises. If you would like to discuss a particular option available for your care, please do not hesitate to speak to one of our staff members. If you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of a Baltimore auto accident, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to help!

Dr. Gulitz

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