If you get hurt in an accident and have no health insurance, you may wonder who is going to pay for your medical treatment. You may win compensation for your medical bills and other damages once you settle a personal injury claim or win your lawsuit, but that may take many months, and you need to pay your medical bills now.
You may wonder why the person who caused the accident (or their insurance company) can't pay the bills. The answer is that, for better or for worse, if you get into an accident, you are responsible for the payment of your medical bills as you incur them. Even if the person who injured you is clearly at fault, the law does not require them to pay your medical bills as they’re accrued.
The only thing the law requires is that, if the other person is at fault, he/she must pay you damages to resolve your lawsuit. But, depending on the circumstances, if you have no health insurance and were in an accident, you might be able to use one or more of the following methods to get at least some of your medical bills paid:
- No fault car insurance
- The negligent person’s medical payment coverage
- Working out payment arrangements with your health care providers
In the sections below, we'll take a closer look at each of these options.
No Fault Insurance
No fault car insurance exists in about a dozen states, and means that your own automobile insurer will pay some or all of your medical bills and lost earnings if you get into a car accident, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
A claim under no fault insurance is often called a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim. But every state’s law is different. In some “no fault” states, there is a limit as to the amount of medical bills that your insurer will pay; in others, there is no limit. So, if you get into a car accident in a no fault state, you should contact a car accident lawyer to find out what your rights are under your state’s no fault laws. See our state laws page to learn more about the rules where you live.
Medical Payment Coverage
Some automobile and property insurance policies have what is called medical payment insurance coverage (known as “med pay” coverage). “Med pay” coverage will pay the medical bills of the person(s) injured in an accident caused by the insured, up to the insured’s “med pay” policy limits, which are generally less than $10,000.
After your bills exceed the “med pay” policy limits, you will be responsible for paying them. So, if you get into a car accident in a state that does not have no fault insurance, or, if you fall on someone’s property, you should find out if that person has “med pay” coverage. If there is “med pay” coverage, then that person’s insurance policy will pay for at least some of your medical bills.
Medicaid is a federal health insurance program that provides health insurance to low-income people through state agencies. The federal government does not provide the health insurance directly to the citizens; it sends the funds to the states, and the states run the health insurance programs.
If you get into an accident and lose your health insurance and/or your job as a result of the accident, you may qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is not charity; it is a health insurance program that the government designed for low-income people.
If you get into an accident and have no health insurance, you should go to your state’s Medicaid office and find out if you qualify for Medicaid. If you do qualify, Medicaid will pay your medical bills going forward, and may even pay some of your past bills, depending on your state’s Medicaid laws and regulations.
Working Out Payment Arrangements with Health Care Providers
Some physicians and chiropractors who specialize in treating accident victims know that many of their patients have no health insurance, and are willing to work with them on payment.
Some providers will agree to treat the patient in return for the patient’s promise to pay the bills from the proceeds of their settlement or verdict. In this situation, the provider will have the patient sign a personal injury lien, which will be sent to the patient’s lawyer. This lien is a binding contract between the patient and the provider, and requires the lawyer to pay the provider from the settlement or verdict proceeds before the patient/client gets any money from the case.
Whatever your situation, if you have been in an accident, and are having problems arranging for medical treatment due to lack of insurance, you should contact an accident lawyer so that you can get advice on how to get treatment based on your state’s laws.