Health insurance is an important tool for protecting yourself financially when an unexpected illness or injury strikes — and when you’re injured in an accident, the cost of medical treatment can be staggering.
However, if you don’t have health insurance, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. The law provides some protections that may help you to get the medical treatment you need.
The right to emergency medical care is one of the most vital legal protections provided by the federal government. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), hospitals are required to provide treatment for emergency medical conditions regardless of the patient’s ability to pay or insurance status.
This means that if you’re injured in an accident and need emergency medical attention, a hospital can’t refuse to treat you just because you don’t have health insurance or the money to pay for treatment.
There are some caveats, though. For starters, the EMTALA doesn’t require hospitals to provide treatment beyond the initial diagnosis and stabilization of your condition. Additionally, the EMTALA doesn’t guarantee free medical care — the only thing it ensures is that the hospital won’t refuse to treat you because of your insurance status. Fortunately, other options may be available to help you pay for treatment.
If your injuries require further treatment or ongoing care, you may be able to get affordable health insurance coverage through Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that helps low-income individuals pay for medical care.
In Georgia, you may be eligible for Medicaid if you meet certain income and asset requirements and fall under a qualifying category, such as pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. Many accident victims qualify for Medicaid due to the combination of lost wages and medical bills that often follow a serious injury, so it’s worth looking into.
Approval for Medicaid coverage can take up to 60 days, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible after your injury. If your application is approved, Medicaid will likely cover any medical expenses you incurred beginning around the time you submitted your application, but you’ll need to inform your doctor that you applied for Medicaid. From there, they’ll decide if they’re willing to accept Medicaid as payment for your treatment and delay billing until the application is approved.
Many auto insurance policies come with medical payments coverage, also known as MedPay. This type of coverage reimburses policyholders for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident. MedPay is typically available in increments ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and may be used for medical care regardless of fault.
Purchasing MedPay coverage isn’t required under Georgia law, but if you opted into it when choosing your auto insurance plan, you may be able to use it to cover some of your medical bills following an accident. Be sure to check with your insurance company to see if you have MedPay coverage and how much you’re eligible for.
Medical providers are often willing to arrange a plan that takes into consideration your financial situation, so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re having trouble paying your bills.
For instance, hospitals usually offer payment plans that allow you to pay off your balance over a period of time in small installments. You may also qualify for financial assistance from the hospital if your income is low and you have trouble paying. In addition, some medical providers may accept liens that allow you to pay your bills after receiving a settlement from the party responsible for your accident.
Don’t let the idea of a hefty hospital bill dissuade you from seeking medical attention — if you don’t get the treatment you need, your injury may worsen, and you could harm your opportunity to recoup damages if you ultimately decide to file a legal claim against the responsible party. The best thing to do is get the emergency treatment you need, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you explore your legal options for recovering compensation.
By taking the right steps now, you can protect your health and financial well-being. Get started today by contacting a Macon Car Accident Lawyer at (478) 216-1664. We offer free consultations and will review your case at no cost.