About 4.5 million people got injured in car accidents in 2018, according to estimates from the National Safety Council. Some of those injured people will refuse medical treatment, but many others will have no choice but to go to the hospital. That can get expensive, even with health insurance. And it’s fair to wonder whether health insurance will even cover the cost of your medical bills after a car accident, because health insurance companies often look for ways to deny coverage. No one plans on getting into a car accident, obviously, but here are some things you should know anyway about how health insurance works if you get in a wreck.
Car insurance versus health insurance
It’s easier than ever to get health insurance nowadays, assuming you have enough money to pay for it. You don’t have to call someone or make an appointment at an office; you just have to get on your laptop or mobile device and look up online health insurance quotes.
But while that provides some assurance, the work isn’t over once you pick a plan. It would be nice if the insurance company would pay your medical bills after a car accident without asking any questions, but they’re going to have questions. If the other driver was at fault, they may try to get the other driver’s car insurance to pay for your medical bills. It sounds convoluted because it is.
If the other driver wasn’t at fault, then your health insurance might come after your car insurance for money. Most drivers are required to at least have liability insurance. That covers bodily injuries and property damage for other people if you’re found to be at fault in the wreck. It doesn’t guarantee that the other driver won’t try to sue you, but it helps make that less likely.
If you’ve got personal injury protection, your health insurance may want that policy to cover your injuries rather than your health insurance. This insurance is for you, and it can also cover other injured passengers in the car. Again, though, that depends on the specific circumstances of the accident, as well as the language of your plan.
What if you go into medical debt?
It’s possible for the health insurance company and the car insurance company to engage in a long dispute about just who should cover your bills. This is a bit of a worst-case scenario, but it can happen. If both sides are telling you to call the other company, then you might be looking at some scary medical bills.
One study found that 1 in 6 Americans have past due medical bills that show up on their credit report. Millennials are more likely to have this debt than older Americans. It’s a uniquely American problem with no clear solution, at least not when you’re in the middle of debating whether you should file for bankruptcy over car accident bills. However, you do have more options here than you might realize.
If the other driver was at fault and your insurance companies aren’t cooperating, you should contact a personal injury law firm. If that feels like too drastic a step, calm down and remember that talking to a lawyer doesn’t mean agreeing to let them file a lawsuit on your behalf. You’re just going to tell your story and talk about the evidence you can or can’t provide. If the lawyer doesn’t think your case has much chance of succeeding in court, then they’ll tell you that. They don’t want to waste your time or their time on a civil suit that’s going nowhere fast. But bringing in a lawyer is a good way to make the insurance companies sit up and take notice, if nothing else. They’ll often pay attention to your lawyer even if it feels like they’re ignoring you as a customer.