Settling a personal injury claim can feel like a huge relief. The legal battle is over, and you finally have the compensation you need to move on with your life. But don’t celebrate just yet—there’s still the matter of paying your medical bills.
In Florida, accident victims are responsible for paying their own medical expenses, even after receiving a settlement. Negotiating these bills is crucial for maximizing the money in your pocket.
Follow these 7 tips to successfully negotiate your medical bills and liens after your personal injury case.
Tip #1 – Review All Medical Bills Carefully
The first step is to gather up all medical bills related to your accident. This includes hospital bills, ambulance fees, doctor visits, medications, physical therapy, medical equipment, and any other treatment costs. Go through each one line-by-line and make sure there are no errors or duplicate charges.
Watch out for things like:
- Services that were never performed
- Incorrect dates that don’t match your treatment timeline
- Charges for treatment from providers you never saw
- Math errors like double-billing for the same service
- Excessive fees well above the typical cost
Compare the bills to your own records to verify that every charge lines up with the care you actually received. Doing this due diligence can help you contest and remove unfair or fraudulent costs.
Tip #2 – Determine What is Covered by Health Insurance
Next, figure out what your health insurance has and has not paid. Some charges may be marked as “pending” or “not covered.” Make a list of any bills that your insurance refused to pay or only paid partially. Your negotiation efforts will center on getting those uninsured costs reduced.
Under Florida Statute 627.736, your auto insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection should cover at least $10,000 in medical expenses. However, PIP limits are often inadequate to cover extensive treatment fully. Verify what your insurer paid, and challenge any unreasonable denials.
Tip #3 – Negotiate Directly with Healthcare Providers
It’s time to negotiate with the hospitals, doctors’ offices, therapists, and other providers themselves. Many medical providers are open to providing significant discounts, especially if you offer immediate payment in cash.
Here are some tips for these negotiations:
- Explain your situation. Describe the accident, your injuries, and your financial hardship from mounting medical bills. Emphasize that you’re unable to pay the full amounts right now.
- Offer a lump sum. Providers often give a discount for paying the entire negotiated balance upfront in a single lump sum. Make sure to get any agreement in writing.
- Request an itemized bill. If any charges seem excessive, request an itemized bill to understand how they’re calculating costs. Scrutinize each item to ensure none are unwarranted.
- Compare cash discount policies. Many facilities advertise discounts for self-pay patients. Compare discount policies and use them as leverage.
- Ask about financial assistance. Non-profit hospitals are required to have financial assistance programs. Ask about reduced-cost care or sliding scale options based on your financial situation.
Tip #4 – Dispute Unreasonable Charges
Don’t be afraid to challenge fees you feel are unjustified or egregiously inflated. Here are some strategies:
- Demand justification. Request evidence and explanation for excessive fees that exceed typical costs in your area.
- Cite Medicare/Medicaid rates. Reference what government payers would reimburse for the same service as a benchmark for reasonableness.
- Research typical costs. Search online fee databases to compare rates and back up any claims of price gouging.
- File complaints. For excessive fees, file complaints with regulatory bodies like your state’s Department of Insurance or Attorney General.
The more documentation and evidence you can provide to justify a lower reasonable rate, the more leverage you’ll have in negotiations.
Tip #5 – Hire a Professional Medical Bill Negotiator
If you find the whole process of negotiating medical bills overwhelming, consider hiring a professional advocate to negotiate on your behalf. These experts specialize in getting medical bills drastically lowered. Many work on a contingency basis, where they only get paid if they’re able to secure their savings. Fees range from 25-50% of the savings amount.
Professional negotiators have established relationships with providers, insider knowledge of reasonable fee ranges, and top negotiation skills. They can often achieve much greater reductions compared to individuals negotiating alone. Explore this route if you need extensive assistance lowering your remaining bills.
Tip #6 – Make Strategic Partial Payments
If you can swing it, making partial upfront payments can motivate providers to settle bills for less than the full balance. Consider the following:
- Get settlement. First secure a written agreement on the reduced amount. Never just send a partial payment without an agreement.
- Prioritize bills. If funds are limited, pay the most urgent bills or lowest balances first.
- Ask about discounts. Offering immediate partial payment may qualify you for an additional prompt payment discount.
- Set up a payment plan. If you can’t pay the new negotiated amount in full, set up an affordable monthly payment schedule.
With smart partial payments and negotiations, you can often settle medical bills for less than the original billed amounts.
Tip #7 – Don’t Delay Medical Care
One important tip is to continue the recommended medical treatment after your settlement and not avoid care due to unpaid bills. Delaying necessary care could negatively impact your long-term health and recovery. Stay in touch with your providers and negotiate payment plans. You may be able to help cover medical costs using a portion of your settlement funds.
For Professional Help, Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Now
Settling your personal injury claim is a big step forward. But don’t let outstanding medical bills and liens prevent you from ultimately being made whole. Be proactive and take advantage of every opportunity to negotiate and reduce your healthcare costs.
With persistence and the right legal guidance, you can resolve your medical expenses fairly and retain the maximum compensation amount you deserve.
If you need assistance negotiating medical bills after a personal injury settlement, contact a Florida personal injury attorney at Purely Legal today for a free consultation. Their legal team has the knowledge and resources to protect your rights and maximize your recovery.
Visit https://www.purely.legal/ to learn more or schedule an appointment.