Do You Have to Pay Medical Bills If You’re Expecting a Settlement?

If you’ve been in a car accident or you’ve suffered some other personal injury, you may be waiting for a legal settlement to cover your medical expenses. But what do you do with your medical bills in the meantime?

You’re going to need to go to initial appointments, follow-up appointments, and physical therapy sessions. You could be picking up prescription medications and medical devices as well. So what are you supposed to do?

The High-Level View

Let's start with a high-level view. Generally speaking, medical providers will assume that you will be paying for your treatment. Most commonly, you'll be going through an insurance company. Depending on the state of the case, and the nature of your injuries, you might be leaning on any of the following entities:

  • A car insurance company. Your car insurance company may cover your injuries if you received them in a car collision, even if the collision wasn't your fault. If another party is to blame, your insurance company may negotiate with theirs to arrange for proper reimbursement. You may also have your medical bills paid by the responsible party's insurance company in some cases.
  • Medicare or Medicaid. If car insurance payment isn't available, you may be able to go through Medicare or Medicaid if you’re enrolled in one of these insurance programs.
  • Your health insurance company. If you don't have Medicare or Medicaid, you can usually go through your primary health insurance company, assuming you have one. Your health insurance company will cover the initial expenses, even if someone else was responsible for your injuries and you're awaiting a settlement.
  • Workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to cover the costs associated with any injuries sustained in the workplace. Accordingly, if you were injured while at work, workers comp may be able to cover you directly.

However, if you do receive a settlement in the future, you may be legally obligated to pay back whichever institution initially covered your medical expenses. Their intervention is considered a form of temporary financial protection; much of your settlement will be intentionally given to cover your medical expenses, lifting the burden from the paying institution.

After you receive your settlement, you may receive a demand letter from the institution that initially paid for your medical expenses. You'll then be responsible for reimbursing them for whatever they paid. In some cases, they may be making unreasonable demands, at which point you'll need to work with a lawyer to negotiate with them. Eventually, the institution may impose a lien on you in an effort to collect the money, so these requests aren't something you can ignore.

How to Manage the Process

If you find yourself dealing with the fallout from a personal injury, there are several steps you can take to make the process easier to manage:

  • Get a good lawyer. Your lawyer will be with you every step of the way. They'll help you understand what you're responsible for. They'll help you understand the details of your case. They'll negotiate with insurance companies to get you the best settlement. They'll even help you figure out what to do with your settlement after you receive it. If you have a good lawyer on your side, everything will be much easier.
  • Go to every appointment. If you're worried about money and you're not sure whether you can afford medical treatment, you might be hesitant to go to your appointments. But it's always better to go and get the treatment you need; don't skip an appointment just because you have financial concerns.
  • Present insurance information if asked. If and when your medical providers request you to provide insurance information, go ahead and provide it to them, even if you’re uncertain about when you’ll receive your future settlement.
  • Document all your expenses. Make it a point to document all your expenses. Keep track of everything you've paid so far and every appointment you’ve had. This will be important in the negotiation process, helping you ensure you're fairly compensated for every medical expense you've incurred as a result of the accident.
  • Delay paying medical bills when possible. If you start to receive medical bills in the mail and you still haven't received your settlement, consider delaying your payment. There's no reason to rush into paying your medical bills when you have other, more important expenses to worry about, like making sure there’s food on the table.
  • Consider negotiating with medical providers. in some cases, you might be in a position to negotiate with medical providers. Sometimes, if you call your medical provider and simply let them know that you're waiting on a settlement, they may be willing to significantly delay the due date or waive late fees. You may also be able to reduce the total amount due.
  • Get a settlement loan. A settlement loan is a financial product designed to give immediate cash to plaintiffs who need it most. If your application is approved, you'll get an immediate sum of money that you can use in any way you want. If you don't receive a settlement, you won't owe anything back. If and when you do receive a settlement, you'll pay back whatever money you borrowed plus a small, fixed fee. It could be exactly what you need to remain financially in control during this tumultuous time.
  • Be prepared to pay insurance companies back. Always be prepared to pay back your insurance companies or any other institution that stepped in to pay your medical bills. Part of your settlement is intended to reimburse you for medical expenses, so it's only fair that those reimbursed funds eventually get back to the institutions that actually paid for your treatment.

Are you awaiting a settlement and in need of cash you can use to cover your daily expenses? A settlement loan could be exactly what you need. Apply now to get started and get access to the money you need!