Glyphosate—the active ingredient in the popular weed killing product Roundup®—has been linked to serious health issues, particularly non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). If you're experiencing health problems that could be related to your use of Roundup®, you may be wondering what impact a lawsuit will play in helping you pay for your medical expenses.
One of the primary types of compensable losses ("damages" in legalese) sought in glyphosate litigation is healthcare expenses. So, if you successfully settle your Roundup® case, or receive a favorable verdict after a jury trial, the award likely will include compensation for necessary medical treatment (including diagnosis, the patient's current course of care, and future healthcare expenditures).
However, Roundup® cases can take years to resolve. So, damages from a lawsuit will not cover medical expenses as they become due before the case can be completed.
Some Roundup® plaintiffs may rely on health insurance to pay their ongoing medical expenses. Healthcare providers are obligated to bill patients’ health insurance companies before placing responsibility for the medical expenses on patients personally. The problem is that health insurance may not always pay for certain health-related expenses, or may pay only a portion of charges incurred for a particular medical treatment. And patients without health insurance may end up responsible for payments they're not capable of making. In these situations, there are a few steps you might take to resolve the issue.
First, patients who do not have health insurance should contact their state Medicaid office to determine if they qualify for Medicaid, a federal health insurance program that provides funding to states. These funds are then used by state agencies to provide low-income patients with health insurance.
Some health care providers may be amenable to working out a payment plan. Others might permit the patient to submit delayed or partial repayment. The first step is explaining your situation and asking about your options.
Be aware that healthcare providers and Medicare/Medicaid may be legally entitled to assert a medical lien against any money received from a patient’s Roundup® settlement or verdict. A medical lien is a legal tool that allows an entity to recover payment relating to a patient’s medical treatment.
As discussed above, patients and healthcare providers (including hospitals) may negotiate repayment of medical bills. In some instances, they may enter into a voluntary agreement where the patient promises to pay the provider from settlement proceeds or damages obtained from a successful verdict. When this happens, the provider may require the patient to agree to a medical lien and sign what is called a consensual lien or Letter of Protection. Such a lien in a Roundup® case would be sent to the patient/plaintiff’s attorney, and would serve as a binding agreement between patient and provider.
Although liens can be established in advance through mutual agreement, healthcare providers may also impose them on settlement proceeds or verdict awards without the patient’s express consent. A healthcare provider may assert a medical lien when the patient lacks health insurance (or has insufficient coverage). But it's still possible to negotiate with a healthcare provider and see if they'll accept partial repayment of what's owed in exchange for a lien release.
Keep in mind that liens are typically governed by strict procedural guidelines imposed by state law. A healthcare provider’s failure to comply with these guidelines could render the lien invalid. The patient will still be responsible for his or her medical bills, but the lien will be unenforceable.
If the government has paid for a patient’s Roundup®-related medical bills under Medicaid or Medicare, it's entitled by law to repayment of those funds from any settlement or verdict award. So, the government can also place a lien on a successful Roundup® claimant's proceeds. Learn more about paying back Medicare after you win your injury case.
An attorney can help you understand the full scope of your rights and responsibilities when it comes to paying medical bills as they're due, and paying back providers and others. Get tips on finding the right lawyer for you and your Roundup® case.