Over the last few months, there have been numerous articles that discuss the fact that hospitals and doctors are suing their patients for payment of bills arising out of health care that was given. These situations arise in several different ways. Sometimes the patient has a surgical procedure and the surgeon’s bill is covered by insurance, but the anesthesiologist or radiologist or some other specialty is not covered by insurance. The patient can then get a bill for an enormous amount of money from health care people the patient has never met.
Or, the patient can be uninsured for a brief period of time due to being unemployed or simply by changing jobs but having a gap before the new insurance becomes effective. If there is an unexpected trip to the hospital at that time, the patient can receive a massive bill from the hospital for the care rendered. There is no insurance company to give the bill to and so the patient is left with the delivery of a lawsuit demanding payment.
To make matters worse, the size of the medical bills that are not covered by insurance are huge compared to the amounts that have been negotiated by the major health insurers in the country. So, if you have an emergency room visit that is covered by insurance, the insurance company may pay, for example, $1,200.00. But if the bill is not covered, that hospital bills the amount it thinks is correct and that bill can be ten or more times what the insurance company paid. You, the patient, are left with a legal claim for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
So, what to do? The hospital is represented by lawyers who often get a percentage of the amount they collect. Those lawyers know that you, the individual, do not know how to defend yourself in court. They use that knowledge to force you into an onerous settlement agreement. You, the patient, are afraid to hire a lawyer because you are worried that your lawyer will cost you more money than the amount of the hospital bill and you also think there is no way to defend yourself, so why try.
However, there are ways to deal with this absolutely unfair situation. One way I have utilized is to file a legal Answer to the Complaint from the hospital with a Counter Claim for medical malpractice. This simple act will force the hospital to turn the matter over to its medical malpractice insurance company, and that makes this lawsuit suddenly become a very large headache for the hospital. Because of this, you are now in a much more favorable position to negotiate a settlement.
Additionally, when you file the Answer to the Complaint you also state that you want a trial by a jury. Believe me, no hospital wants to try to convince a jury that they are entitled to thousands of dollars for care rendered to you when they routinely accept payments of hundreds of dollars for the same treatment from an insurance company. Again, this simple step will instantly put you in a vastly better position to negotiate a fair resolution of this problem.
You will need some legal advice from a lawyer to accomplish the mission of obtaining a fair settlement, but the cost of that advice will be very little compared to the cost of settling on the terms dictated by the hospital’s lawyers.
So, if this situation happens to you, give us a call. We do charge for our services, but you will receive representation that will enable you to avoid a possibly catastrophic mistake through agreement to a huge payment that could be avoided.