It’s sad that anyone should even have to think about this question–even more unfortunate is that the answer is yes. Sure, hospitals look to make money and turn a profit like any other business in the world–but the way some hospitals pursue those profits is shameful.
If you haven’t read this New York Times article about how hospitals profit off of car accident victims, you should spend a few minutes doing so–it could completely change your outlook on hospitals and convince you to hire an experienced car accident injury attorney if you’re involved in a crash.
How Hospitals Can Get Away with This Practice
According to the New York Times investigative piece, some hospitals take full advantage of what is called “lien laws,” some of which are nearly a century old. What the hospitals do in cases like this is, rather than bill a health insurance provider, they will pursue a higher payout by placing a lien–a claim on an asset, such as a home or a settlement payment, to make sure someone repays a debt–on the patient’s accident settlement. So, instead of the injured party receiving much-needed funds to pay for any medical expenses and vehicle repair or replacement, or to cover lost wages from missed time at work, the injured patient actually could wind up in debt, when the insurance provider would have covered most of the expenses if the hospital billed them as they should.
Astonishingly, this practice of completely bypassing insurance providers to pursue full charges from a victim’s accident settlement is becoming more and more commonplace. Perhaps the worst part of it is, hospitals often use this practice to go after those who can least afford it–low-income patients. People with Medicaid, for example. Because Medicaid pays lower reimbursement rates to hospitals than most private health plans, hospitals altogether avoid Medicaid in search of a higher payout. And hospitals can bring in millions of dollars annually by using this practice.
Disgraceful? Absolutely. Illegal? Not always.
The article cites one particular instance regarding a Catholic hospital in Oklahoma, which offers some accident victims a waiver to sign that states they don’t want their health insurance billed for the care they receive. One woman was brought into the hospital with a head injury and evidently signed the waiver (she later said she had no recollection of doing so). Rather than her health insurance provider being billed, she was stuck with a lien of more than $34,000. Sadly, in some states, this is perfectly legal.
Why Having a Car Accident Lawyer Is So Important
Hospitals can get away with practices like this because most people have no idea they even exist. Fortunately, experienced lawyers–like those at The Lapidus Law Firm–know all about these obscure laws and can protect clients from being preyed upon by money-hungry hospitals. That’s why we always recommend calling The Lapidus Law Firm in the event of a car accident–we’ll guide you through the whole process and ensure that you don’t sign any documents (like these waivers) you shouldn’t, especially if you’re injured or in a disoriented state.
While we’d love to be able to tell you that hospitals in Maryland and Washington, DC haven’t used this practice, sadly, that’s not the case. But having a car accident attorney by your side can help you avoid getting into situations like this.
Are Hospitals Profiting from the Injured?
It’s always a good idea to contact a lawyer if you’ve been in a car accident. Not only to protect you in situations like this but also to help guide you through the process, which could require negotiations with hospitals, insurance companies, and other attorneys. Let the experts at The Lapidus Law Firm handle all of this for you while recovering from your injuries. Call us at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
We are committed to making justice work for you.
Written by Larry Lapidus