Why Personal Injury Patients Might Need Medical Bill Assistance
Each year, approximately 2 million people involved in car accidents have permanent injuries as a result of their crash. These injuries can lead to exceedingly high healthcare expenses, lost wages, and reduced income when the injury prevents the personal injury (PI) patient from returning to work full time—if at all.
Medical bills for personal injury cases, like car accidents, often put a patient in need of medical bill assistance. Learn how medical funding can ensure your PI patients get the treatment they need, and your practice gets compensated for the care you provide.
Types of Personal Injury That May Require Medical Bill Assistance
Motor vehicle crashes are only one type of PI accident that can cause life-changing injuries. Not every personal injury patient will require assistance paying medical bills, but quite a few will. Here are some of the most common types of personal injuries where a patient can benefit from medical funding:
- Motor Vehicle Accident – Any patient injured in an accident involving a car, truck, or motorcycle could face significant bills and have to wait years for an insurance company to pay for damages.
- Workplace Accident – Some workers (including those who are not eligible for workers’ compensation) may be entitled to full compensation for job-related accidents, but employers might delay payment for months or years on technicalities.
- Premises Liability – Patients that sustain an injury due to the defective conditions on a private or commercial property can be eligible for compensation.
- Products Liability – Dangerous and/or defective products, such as dangerous prescription drugs or defective vehicles, can cause serious injuries and lead to a personal injury case. These cases are often categorized as class actions and take years or even decades to resolve.
Why Personal Injury Accidents May Require Medical Bill Assistance
In personal injury cases, the defendant is not required to pay the plaintiff’s medical bills as they arise. Only when they are found responsible in court, do they have to pay for the patient’s injuries.
While the patient may have to wait years for a jury trial, it is still the patient’s responsibility to pay their medical bills—today! If the accident and injuries sustained are severe, medical costs can be quite high.
High Cost of Care
Depending on the circumstances, personal injury accidents can cause significant damage and result in a very high cost of care. To provide some perspective, let’s review the costs of a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained during a car accident.
While TBIs are often a result of bad falls, contact sports (especially football), and other incidents, motor vehicle crashes are actually the most common reason for TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths among people between the ages of 15 and 34.
How Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur During Car Crashes
First, let’s break down how a TBI is sustained during a car accident. In a motor vehicle crash, there are three different collisions that occur.
The first is vehicle collision, which happens when the vehicle hits another object. The second impact is human collision, which is when the passengers hit objects within the car. Finally, the third is internal collision, which occurs when the passengers’ internal organs keep moving forward within the body.
TBIs are caused by the brain contusions or hemorrhages that occur during internal collisions. If a passenger hits their head on another object, such as the steering wheel or the ground, blunt trauma can also occur—and call for an even longer recovery process.
The Cost of TBI Treatment
The lifetime costs for treating a TBI ranges from approximately $85,000 to $3 million. Following a severe accident, patients may be in a coma when they arrive at the hospital. If not, they could be put into a medically induced coma to give their brain and body a chance to rest. In terms of procedures, treatment for more severe brain injuries may begin with brain surgery to remove hematomas, repair skull fractures, or relieve pressure with a shunt or drain.
Brain surgery, while serious, contributes to only a small portion of the overall treatment plan for a TBI patient. Depending on the severity of this type of injury, a number of rehabilitation therapies—such as physical, occupational, speech, and cognitive, to name a few—may be needed to help the patient get as close as they can to normality.
The Cost of TBI Recovery
Patients with severe TBIs face serious challenges after their accident, including needing to relearn how to walk, speak, and perform everyday tasks with a professional physical or occupational therapist. Some patients even have to learn things they were taught as children—such as colors, animals, and how to count.
Recovery for TBI patients and their families can be a lifetime of relearning how to do things and redefining their new life—and, in some cases, personality. These changes can affect their ability to do everything from providing for their family to participating in life milestones, such as walking their daughter down the aisle at her wedding or holding their baby.
These costs—both direct and indirect—quickly add up, and most patients require medical bill assistance to cover the gaps in their health insurance. Medical funding is even more crucial for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.
Uninsured or Underinsured
According to The Commonwealth Fund, approximately 45 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 19 and 64 are not adequately insured. Employer insurance plans have deteriorated significantly since 2010, so even individuals who have insurance are facing high healthcare costs. In fact, The Commonwealth Fund also reveals that more than half of Americans under the age of 65 get their insurance from employers and, as a result, lack needed comprehensiveness in their plans to cover their medical expenses.
What Does It Mean to Be Uninsured?
Uninsured people do not have a third party, such as Medicare or a private insurance company, to help them cover medical expenses. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 27.9 million nonelderly Americans were estimated to be uninsured in 2018. Most uninsured people come from low-income houses with at least one working family member. The KFF also states that adults and people of color are more likely to be uninsured than children and non-Hispanic White people, respectively.
What Does It Mean to Be Underinsured?
An individual is underinsured when their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses exceed ten percent of their income (or five percent if their income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level) or their insurance deductible is over five percent of their income.
According to The Commonwealth Fund, 51 percent of underinsured adults reported difficulties with medical bills or debt. Forty-four percent of these individuals reported not getting the care they needed because of cost. People with chronic health problems are more likely to be underinsured because their health costs are higher than a healthier person’s.
Medical Bill Assistance for the Uninsured or Underinsured
As you read earlier, suffering a personal injury (such as a TBI) can result in necessary but very expensive treatments—sometimes for the rest of the patient’s life. Without comprehensive health insurance coverage, PI patients will need medical bill assistance to cover some of their expenses until they receive their settlement or go to trial for their injury.
In addition to the high medical expenses they incur following a personal injury, many patients are not able to go back to work. These patients are subject to lost wages and reduced income, which means they are often unable to financially support themselves or their families. These major changes to their career and way of life can be compensated in court.
How to Help Personal Injury Patients Get Medical Bill Assistance
Personal injury patients and their attorneys often put a medical lien in place to cover the cost of medical treatment before a settlement. A medical lien means deferred compensation at best, and no payment at worst, for medical providers. Both patients and medical providers may benefit from medical lien funding.
Medical bill assistance can ensure the patient gets the care they need—and that your practice gets compensated for the services you provide. PI patients can be on their way to recovery, and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your organization’s financial well-being.
How Can You Help Your Personal Injury Patients?
Beyond treating their injuries and providing excellent care, you can further help your PI patients by understanding the medical bill assistance and medical funding options available, and ways they can cover their healthcare expenses while waiting for their settlement.
Personal injury cases are confusing. Discover PI patients’ biggest questions and do your research on how to help them when they need you most.
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