If you sought medical treatment following an accident, it is very possible that you may have received a document called a Notice of Health Care Provider Lien, either from the hospital or other medical provider directly or, more likely, from a law firm representing the provider. The two most important things to understand is that you cannot ignore the lien and that as long as the lien is respected, you have no reason to worry.
Rest Assured, You’re Not in Trouble
No one likes to receive a letter or official looking document from an attorney’s office that they have never heard of. Usually this spells trouble, demands money, or threatens legal action. Relax, Health Care Provider Liens are a normal part of the complex legal process that occurs after an accident, even if you have not filed a lawsuit. Simply put, the hospital, doctor or clinic just wants to make sure that it is paid for services rendered. The normal way that is often accomplished, without an accident or someone to blame, is by having the bill submitted to a patient’s health insurance and then by billing the patient directly for any amount that was not covered by health insurance. The provider then has to hope that the person can pay their share of the bill, and that they do so quickly. However, when the health care provider has reason to believe that the injured patient will be bringing a claim against whomever was at fault (for example, another driver in the case of a car accident), the health care provider can take an extra step to legally protect their right to get paid. This is done by issuing a Health Care Provider Lien.
The Health Care Provider Lien Protects the Medical Bill
Your medical bills were likely submitted to your health insurance company for payment, or you may intend to pay a portion of the bill out of your pocket while your case is going on, but when the lien is issued, the health care provider likely does not know what is going to happen to its bill yet. They want to make sure that they get paid. The lien means that by law, the bill has to be dealt with when your case against the other party is complete- before you even take your share. Your attorney will be addressing the bills at the end of your case and making sure that the liens are properly handled. Once you receive your check at the end of the case, all medical bills should have already been handled which leaves you with peace of mind.
It is very important to keep in mind that if your health insurance company paid a bill, they may exercise their right to subrogation, which is closely related to the topic of health care liens. If you have been trying to deal with the insurance companies, requests for information, bills and legal notices after an accident, it can seem overwhelming. Unfortunately, there are right ways and there are wrong ways to handle an injury case. It may be time to speak to an attorney, especially if you were seriously hurt as there may be a lot at stake. Give us a call at 630 250-8813 for a no-obligation strategy session with the attorney.