Westminster, CO is blessed with amazing mountain vistas, beautiful parks and vigorous hiking trails. Lately, though, it feels like it’s also cursed with tragic car crashes. Just a few weeks ago, a single-car rollover crash on 92ndAvenue took the life of a teenager. And according to City-Data.com, the number of fatal car crashes in Westminster has increased from 7 in 2016 to 11 in 2017, and pedestrians killed in car accidents jumped from 2 in 2016 to 6 in 2017.
Personally, I think accidents are on the rise across Colorado thanks to our exploding population, our aging infrastructure, and our auto-centric mentality. My hope is that we all learn to embrace alternative forms of transportation and leave our cars at home, for the health and safety of all. But I digress…
I want to take a moment to let you know a very important tip if you or a loved one is ever in a Westminster car accident. Read on…
Never Give the Other Driver’s Insurance to the Hospital
People who are the victims of car accidents tend to make one big mistake when they are taken to the hospital: they give the other driver’s auto insurance information to the hospital. I understand why: they think that the accident wasn’t their fault so someone else should pay. But that’s not how things work in the state of Colorado. And sadly, that single decision can end up costing them thousands and thousands of dollars. (Below, I share a story about a man who almost lost $700,000 because of this mistake. Read on.) Therefore, if you’ve been in a Westminster car accident, please take note!
If you share one article with your friends and family this year, make this the one. And if you’re going to stop reading right here, take away this single piece of information: always give your own health insurance information to the hospital after an accident. It could save you thousands of dollars.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should give your own health insurance to the hospital after a car accident in Westminster – or anywhere!
- Hospitals can’t do anything with the other driver’s insurance. Nada. Zip. They will not be paid by the other driver’s insurance company. They will be paid by YOU after you win your case against the other driver.
- When you give the other driver’s insurance card to the hospital, they immediately know that there’s going to be a legal case and they may put a lien on your case against the other driver. This means, they will hold onto all of their billing until they know the outcome of your case. Why is this bad? Read on.
- When the hospital puts a lien on the case, they are actually trying to get more money for your care than they would get if you gave them your health insurance information. And they are trying to get it from your settlement. (They have to charge lower negotiated rates to health insurance providers than they can take from your settlement.)
- The lien on your case from the hospital could mean that they charge more than double what they would charge a health insurance provider AND that you will have to pay it out of the settlement you receive from the at-fault driver!
- If you give the hospital your health insurance information, they are required by law to use it. (This law came about because hospitals were increasingly choosing to put liens on legal settlements rather than charging health insurance companies.)
If you think those hospital maneuvers are appalling, keep reading.
What If You Don’t Have Health Insurance After a Westminster Car Accident?
So, what if you’ve been in a car or motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else, and you don’t have health insurance? I have good news: you may be able to apply for Medicaid and it could retroactively cover the injuries you received as a result of the accident. Depending on your financial situation and the extent of your injuries, if you are in the hospital for a long-term stay, such as the ICU, or if you require long-term physical therapy or occupational therapy, you may qualify for Medicaid.
The hospital should send a social worker or case manager to help you apply. Why would they do this? Because it’s in their best interest! If you don’t have insurance, they will likely lose money on your care, so they want you to receive Medicaid if you qualify.
However, if you provide them with the other driver’s insurance information when you’re admitted to the hospital, they will know that a legal case may proceed and they will try to get paid from your settlement. Basically, they will knowingly wait to bill you until you receive a settlement and then take more than double from your settlement than they would have received from Medicaid for your care.
Here’s a story for you:
We had a client who was the victim in a horrendous motorcycle accident in Westminster and he didn’t have any health insurance. When he was admitted, he was unconscious, but his ex-wife and daughter provided the hospital with the at-fault driver’s insurance information. By doing this, they let the hospital know that there was a third party (the at-fault driver’s insurance company) that might pay for his medical costs.
Luckily, the victim hired us to help him and we walked him through the steps to apply for Medicaid. He qualified but the hospital still tried to receive payment from his final settlement. We had to “gently” remind the hospital that they had a duty to bill Medicaid and we saved our client over $700,000! His entire settlement was $1 million and the hospital wanted $700,000 of it! Because we had gotten the victim signed up on Medicaid, that $700,000 stayed in his pocket… and he desperately needs it for ongoing care.
So please remember this (and share it with friends): if you are ever in an accident in Westminster and you are taken to the hospital, provide the hospital with your health insurance information. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to call, text or email me! 303-388-5305, firstname.lastname@example.org