If you've been in a recent Ohio car crash, there's a money grab you need to know about. It's a race by hospitals to bill your auto insurance medical payments coverage and avoid billing your health insurance at all costs.
Here's how it works. After your crash, you may be taken to or visit your local hospital ER for medical treatment. Within minutes of your arrival, you'll be asked for insurance information, and some "papers to sign." You give them your health insurance information. They also ask for your auto insurance information, because your injuries are collision related. Most people who have auto insurance also have "medical payments coverage," which will pay medical bills that are crash related, up to the limits of that coverage--usually $1,000 or $5,000 (which is what most people carry).
Occasionally, you may be asked to sign an "assignment" or other similar document authorizing the hospital to bill your auto insurance company directly. Or, this document may require you to pay the hospital bills directly out of any possible future settlement you receive with the responsible driver's insurance company.
Never mind the fact that you've been banged up or injured or woozy from medications and probably had no idea what you were signing even if you had your wits about you.
Why is your hospital trying to avoid billing your health insurance company and instead trying to get payment from your auto insurance company or out of your settlement?
The reason is simple: $$$$$. Big health insurance companies typically enter into "network" agreements with medical providers like hospitals and doctors. These agreements limit what hospitals are paid for various services. Example: On a hypothetical $2000 hospital bill, the patient's health insurer might pay $500 as payment in full. The hospital might still bill you for any co-pays you owe or deductibles you've not met under your health insurance plan, but that's it. The hospital is stuck with what your health insurance pays.
Your auto insurance might be a bit more generous by paying a higher amount for that same $2,000 bill. It might pay $1,200 or $1,400 or even pay it in full. So, for a few hundred months more, the hospital will try to avoid billing your health insurance at all costs, even though they are in the health insurance company's network and despite the fact that your health insurer covers auto accident related bills.
Pure and simple, hospitals are looking for "greener" pastures for payment of their bills (pun intended). What can you do? One thing you can do is submit the bills to your health insurer and insist that it pay the bills. If you have auto insurance med pay, it should serve as a backup to what health insurance doesn't cover. But don't bother asking the nice account manager at the hospital to submit the bills to your health insurance. Most likely, you'll be told: (1) they are required to bill your auto insurance; (2) they're not allowed to bill your health insurance; or (3) you signed papers authorizing them to directly bill your auto insurance.
Keeping track of this race and untangling it can get really complicated, especially as time goes on. More often than not, you will bang your head against the wall, and eventually call a personal injury attorney like me to sort out the mess.
But if you wait too long, it may mean money going right in the hospital's pocket and right out of yours.