Settling a personal injury claim can feel like a huge relief. The legal battle is over, and you finally have compensation in hand for your injuries and losses.
However, you may still have stacks of medical bills to pay off, even after the settlement. Negotiating these medical costs down is crucial to maximizing the value of your settlement and moving on after an accident.
Read on for a comprehensive guide on navigating medical bills after a personal injury settlement and negotiating them down to reasonable costs.
Reducing Healthcare Costs After an Injury Settlement
After an accident, the bulk of your settlement funds will likely go towards paying off healthcare providers for treatment related to your injuries. This includes hospital bills, doctor’s visits, medications, therapy, in-home care, and any other medical costs stemming from the incident.
Your health insurance may cover some of these expenses if policies were active at the time. However, accident victims are often left with potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical bills even after a settlement.
Negotiating these expenses down is crucial for several reasons:
- Maximizes the value of your settlement funds
- Reduces the stress of large medical debts
- Allows you to focus on recovery rather than bills
Settling your case does not mean you can no longer negotiate medical costs. You have every right to seek fair, reasonable prices for healthcare services.
When to Start Negotiating Medical Bills
To get the best deals on medical costs, begin negotiating as early as possible. Here is when to take action:
Before Treatment Starts
Ideally, negotiate medical bills before you ever step foot in a hospital or doctor’s office. Take these steps:
- Get estimates in writing – Have providers detail likely costs upfront.
- Compare prices – Check rates at different facilities. Choose the most affordable quality care.
- Discuss discounts – Ask if they offer pre-payment or cash discounts.
- Seek financial assistance – See if you qualify for reduced-cost care.
Of course, in an emergency, focus on getting life-saving treatment first. But for non-urgent appointments, compare prices and negotiate costs.
As Bills Come In
Once you start receiving medical bills, negotiate each one before paying. This includes bills that arrive:
- Before settlement
- After settlement
- Months or years later
The sooner you negotiate expenses, the more leverage you have. But it is still possible to negotiate bills that have gone to collections or been outstanding for years.
Before Finalizing Settlement
Your attorney can negotiate medical bills before you agree to a final settlement. This ensures the settlement is enough to cover the remaining expenses.
Be upfront with your attorney about any outstanding medical costs so they can better advocate for full compensation.
Strategies for Negotiating Medical Bills
You have several effective strategies to reduce medical bills, both before and after a settlement. Here are some of our top techniques:
Research Fair Rates
Do not pay any bill until you verify the charges are fair and reasonable. Healthcare blue book and other online tools allow you to compare costs for procedures at facilities in your area.
You can also check a provider’s listed Medicare or Medicaid rates to gauge appropriate costs for services. In many cases, hospitals and doctors inflate bills for accident victims. Comparing rates helps identify this excessive billing.
Review Bills Closely
Carefully scrutinize every line item on medical bills to spot errors or duplicate charges. It is shockingly common for medical bills to contain inaccurate or suspicious fees, including:
- Charges for treatment you did not receive
- Upcoded procedures (billing for more expensive services than provided)
- Duplicate charges for the same treatment or medication
- Outrageous markups for basic supplies like bandages
If you spot any discrepancies, challenge the charges. The provider has the burden of proving the charges are justified. Don’t pay for the treatment you did not receive.
Negotiate Directly With Providers
One effective way to lower medical bills is to negotiate directly with healthcare providers. Here are tips for these conversations:
- Be polite but firm
- Highlight your financial hardship
- Offer to pay cash upfront at a reduced rate
- Request a prompt payment discount
- Ask about financial assistance programs
- Offer a lump sum settlement on the account
- Request a reasonable payment plan if needed
Many providers would rather receive some payment than send debts to collections. Politely negotiating can result in significant discounts.
Dispute Outrageous Charges
If a medical bill seems inflated or outrageous, do not hesitate to dispute the charges. First, ask the provider to justify the fees in writing. If they cannot adequately explain their rates, file complaints with oversight agencies.
You can also appeal bills through your insurance provider’s dispute process. Keep escalating your complaint until the unfair charges are waived or reduced.
Hire a Professional Negotiator
You always have the option to bring in a professional negotiator to handle discussions around medical bills. At Pasternack Injury Law Group, our experienced personal injury lawyers can negotiate with healthcare providers on your behalf to lower costs.
We know how to apply pressure tactfully to have unreasonable bills reduced or dropped. We will also ensure providers honor any previous agreements to lower or waive costs after a settlement.
What If Bills Exceed the Settlement Amount?
Unfortunately, it is possible for medical expenses to exceed the total value of your injury settlement, even after negotiations. If this happens, here are some options:
- Pay the remainder out-of-pocket if possible
- Discuss extended payment plans with providers
- Ask providers again about financial assistance programs or bill forgiveness
- Consider a medical lending program for accident victims
- Consult with a bankruptcy attorney if debts are overwhelming
While frustrating, having some medical debt is better than taking an unfairly low settlement offer just to pay healthcare providers. Our attorneys can help you navigate this tricky situation.
Get Experienced Legal Help Negotiating Medical Bills
Even with a settlement, accident victims often struggle under the weight of bloated medical bills. At Pasternack Injury Law Group, their personal injury attorneys have successfully reduced clients’ healthcare expenses by thousands of dollars.
Through strong negotiation tactics targeting hospitals, health providers, doctors’ groups, and collection agencies, their lawyers consistently secure fair rates and payment terms. Their team finds creative solutions that help clients maximize settlement funds.
If you feel overwhelmed trying to pay off treatment bills out-of-pocket, reach out to Pasternack Injury Law Group today. Their attorneys provide personalized guidance every step of the way toward financial freedom. Visit their website at https://pasternackinjurylaw.com/ for a consultation. Discover how they can negotiate your balances down while still ensuring quality care.