Settling a personal injury claim can feel like a huge relief. The legal battle is over, and you finally have compensation for your injuries. But for many accident victims, large medical bills remain even after receiving a settlement.
Negotiating medical bills after settlement may seem daunting. But with persistence and the right strategies, you can often lower your healthcare costs significantly.
In this guide, we’ll share insider tips for negotiating medical bills after a personal injury settlement. We’ll also explain how an experienced personal injury attorney can assist you with resolving healthcare liens and outstanding medical debt.
Taking Responsibility for Post-Settlement Medical Expenses
Before we dive into negotiating tactics, it’s critical to understand one thing: medical bills are ultimately your responsibility. We wish it weren’t so. But despite getting a settlement, providers can still legally pursue you for payment.
See, settlement money aims to make you financially “whole again” by covering all losses tied to the incident. This includes property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering – and medical expenses. Any bills left unpaid after the dust settles must be handled separately.
Ideally, your settlement amount considers outstanding and projected care costs. But rarely does it satisfy every provider outright. Hospitals, specialists, therapists – they often have final bills pending long after you get your check. And they want their cut.
The good news? You have power when it comes to these negotiations. Use the right strategies, and you can settle balances for pennies on the dollar.
Gathering Medical Records to Understand Total Costs
Before negotiating bills, you need clarity on what’s owed. We recommend contacting every provider tied to your injury case and requesting final statements and records. This includes:
- Hospitals and emergency rooms
- Primary care doctors and specialists
- Physical therapists, chiropractors, psychologists
- Imaging centers, laboratories, ambulance services
- Equipment rental companies, pharmacies
- Any other facilities involved in treatment
Compile these records into one place. Organize bills by provider name and date of service. This helps you understand the total balances owed – which then informs the negotiation strategy.
Equally important is proving these costs connect directly to your injury incident. Judges want assurance settlement money goes toward related expenses. So, gather evidence showing treatments tie specifically to the accident at hand.
Reviewing Health Insurance and Settlement Clauses
Before negotiating medical bills, it’s smart to review insurance policies and settlement terms for anything impacting your situation.
For example, many health plans cover accident-related treatments differently than general care. Check policy details for your plan’s injury coverage rules – including deductibles, co-insurance rates, and payment caps. Know what accident treatment costs your insurer will handle outright.
Leveraging Health Insurance to Cover Remaining Costs
With records gathered and policies reviewed, it’s time to start working on the bills. We recommend beginning with your health insurer if you have coverage. Sit down with representatives and discuss accident-related treatment costs that have not yet been paid.
Point out treatments directly tied to the date of injury. Reiterate how doctors and facilities diagnosed conditions specifically caused by the incident. Providers may try denying ambulance transports, medications, or specialty visits that are not clearly linked. Offer records and bills showing correlations.
If some charges exceed accident-related caps, ask about exceptions and goodwill write-offs. Show how staying in-network aided recovery. Insurers often provide leeway for large claims when patients act cooperatively.
Settling Medical Liens with Direct Negotiations
If providers secured liens against your settlement, it’s critical to address these early on. Start by contacting lienholders directly and asking for a negotiated reduction. Many facilities jack up claimed amounts, hoping for quick payouts. But offer reasonable alternative sums backed by research.
Point out inflated line items that exceed average costs by location. Highlight unnecessary admin fees and facility charges, which are also driving up totals. Facilities often load mega dollars onto liens and then settle willingly for fair sums just to avoid court.
And if there is no budget for the full amount? Request an affordable monthly payment schedule. Go beyond standard 36-60 month options if needed. Most providers rather receive consistent installments over years than chase unreliable sums or force bankruptcies.
Combing Through Itemized Bills to Challenge Overcharges
If liens get resolved, it’s time to scrutinize the remaining itemized bills more granularly. And “granularly” means reviewing every line item charge one by one. Hospitals notoriously sneak in inflated fees, assuming patients won’t audit deeply enough.
Check surgeon bills containing $15 gloves or $30 sanitary masks. Or facility charges with basic acetaminophen tablets billed at $25 each. Scan ambulance line items listing $400 for driving you 10 city blocks. The examples are endless.
Research reasonable costs for each item, then challenge discrepancies. Show administrators published reports confirming market rates. Stick firm until unjustified charges get removed. If you catch egregious billing errors in the process, request additional goodwill reductions.
Discussing Extended Payment Plans for Unavoidable Balances
If you successfully negotiated down balances owed and still have amounts left over, don’t panic. You have options.
Consider taking one of the following approaches:
- Request an extended payment plan, spreading out remaining costs over many months or even years. Non-profit hospitals provide flexible plans for uninsured patients or those facing financial hardships. For-profit facilities also present payment options that cater to different budgets.
- When creating arrangements, get terms in writing directly from billing departments. Nail down fixed monthly costs covering certain balances owed over set time frames.
- Confirm whether late fees apply if you have been struggling for some months.
- Also, verify if payment schedules get paused during financial catastrophes, losing jobs, or facing disabilities.
The key is keeping communication lines open as you get back on your feet financially. Providers want assurance you’re acting in good faith, working toward paying off debts as conditions improve. When balances shrink each month, it builds trust on both sides.
Consulting Settlement Experts for Added Negotiation Support
If, at any point, medical bills feel unmanageable, consider consulting professional settlement companies or advisors. Many firms specialize directly in negotiating medical balances down for fair costs, matching accident burdens.
Reputable consultants identify reachable outcomes based on injuries and then leverage intricacies within medical billing systems to make those outcomes a reality. They detect overcharges averaging $2,100 per hospital bill using software auditing tools. Then, they exploit technicalities to benefit patients financially.
Settlement experts also utilize long-term client relationships with providers to create flexible payment plans. Their involvement can feel like extra leverage, speeding negotiations favorably. Just make sure to vet advisor backgrounds thoroughly before signing any agreements.
Partnering With a Lawyer for Post-Settlement Relief
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Pickford Law are always ready to help car accident victims negotiate their medical bills – before or after settlement. They offer tailored guidance and advocacy so you can minimize costs and move on with your life.
If new medical bills are overwhelming you, contact their Memphis office today or visit them online at https://pickfordlawfirm.com/ for a free consultation.
Together, they can tackle these charges strategically and create a plan that works for your budget. You deserve to reap the full rewards of your settlement. Let them help you resolve lingering medical payments so you can finally relax and recover.