There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and television when it comes to the role health insurance plays after an auto accident. To provide some clarity on this topic, I want to ask whether you believe negligent and reckless drivers should be held responsible for the harm they cause? If you said, "Yes," I agree. That is why the at-fault driver's insurance company should be required to compensate you for the full amount of your medical bills instead of just reimbursing you for co-pays. In fact, full compensation is the law in South Carolina - though some legislators are pushing to see the burden shifted from insurance companies to taxpayers.
Full Compensation for Medical Bills is Required by Law
So what does this mean for you? It means you should always give the medical provider your health insurance card after an accident, and request they file the bill with your health insurer. You may be thinking that the negligent driver's automobile insurer should pay for your medical bills. If so, you are correct, but that money does not come until the end of the case. Put differently, you should receive money related to your medical expenses in the form of a lump sum payment when your case settles.
So how much money do you receive from the auto insurance company in relation to your medical bills? An adjuster, neighbor, or insurance website might claim that it is fair to reimburse you only for your co-pays. If your health insurance company already paid for everything else, why should you be given money beyond what came out of your pocket? Simple: if South Carolina law allowed a negligent driver's insurer to pay only your out-of-pocket expenses, without additional funds to reimburse your health insurer, it would shift the burden away from the at-fault party and onto the shoulders of everyone else.
For example, lets say someone with Medicare gets in a car wreck with a drunk driver. The Medicare recipient might require surgery, physical therapy, and expensive medications. If the drunk driver's insurance company could shrug and say, "Medicare paid all the bills. We're responsible for this lady's pain and suffering, but nothing more," then the full weight of those bills would be placed on the taxpayer's shoulders. In other words, it would change the definition of "liability" and undo all notions of personal responsibility.
Holding At-fault Drivers Accountable
I do not want to live in a state or nation where reckless drivers can take to our roadways, injure families, then have their auto insurance carrier claim only partial responsibility simply because the family they hurt possessed health insurance. South Carolina families pay health insurance premiums to protect themselves, not to absolve dangerous drivers of the harm they cause. If you agree, feel free to share this article with others and let your legislators know that fair compensation for medical bills was, is, and must always be the law in our state.
If you have any other questions about an auto accident, request free copies of my books and call my Columbia, SC office today at 803-790-2800. You can also submit a contact form here and we will reach out to you shortly to schedule a free consultation.