In most cases, the check will be issued to you, the injured person, and not your medical providers. However, if there is a hospital bill the insurance company may in an effort to make sure the hospital will be paid, will send the check directly to the patient or his or her attorney made payable to the injured person and the hospital. Rarely are other medical providers ever listed on these types of checks. The hospital is listed because the Texas Hospital Lien Statute authorizes them to be added to the checks.
HOW DOCTORS AND OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS BILL YOU FOR THEIR SERVICES
Once a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider has rendered a service to you, the medical group or business to which that provider belongs will typically submit a claim to your automobile insurance provider or health insurance provider. Once these parties have paid their contractual amounts, you will be billed for any remaining balance that was not covered by insurance.
If this bill remains unpaid after a certain length of time–usually between 90 and 180 days–the group or business may turn the obligation over to a collection agency. In doing so, the medical group or business is generally not concerned about:
- Whether someone else was at fault in causing your injuries;
- Whether you have been awarded compensation through a settlement or trial and are waiting on your judgment to be paid; or
- Whether you have the financial resources to pay your obligation in full.
Once your overdue medical bill is referred to a collection agency, the collection agency may cause a notation to be made with the credit-reporting bureaus, showing that your account has been referred for collections. This can seriously damage your credit score and make it more difficult for you to obtain a new credit card or loan.
You may also find that other creditors adjust your interest rates upward as a result of your decreased credit score. Moreover, this derogatory mark will remain on your credit reports for up to seven years. There may be other consequences of unpaid medical bills, such as:
- Legal judgments entered against you, which can further lower your credit score;
- Wage garnishments; and
- The necessity of filing for bankruptcy, if you are not able to pay your medical bills.
Later payment of these overdue obligations–for example, after you receive a compensation award from a lawsuit–is often unable to erase or reverse these negative consequences.