Legal Lessons Week 3 - Do I Have to Pay Back Health Insurance Post-Accident?
Answers to Your Personal Injury Questions
Dear Attorney Norton,
I was told that after an accident I may have to pay back my health insurance for bills they pay. Is this true? The accident was not my fault and it does not seem fair.
- Hurt and Worried
Dear Hurt and Worried,
It is true that you may have to pay back your health insurance company for bills that they pay following an accident, even if it was not your fault. However, you will not usually be required to pay back a health insurance company unless you recover money from the at-fault driver. Virtually all health insurance companies have similar language in their policies that states, "We will pay your medical bills, but you must pay us back if you recover from someone who hurt you." Medicaid, Medicare, Kaiser, Anthem/Blue Cross, Aetna, and virtually all health insurers have this language.
You should be very careful talking to the insurance company of the driver who caused the wreck. Often, their insurance company will want to settle your case quickly, and before you know how much your health insurer wants back. Months after you have settled, and spent the money, your health insurance may ask you for repayment. In many cases, a person's own health insurance company has sued their own insured to recover the money.
You should talk to an attorney about paying back your health insurer before settling your case with the at-fault driver. Your attorney will need to get a copy of your health insurance policy to determine if federal or state law applies. If Colorado law applies, rather than federal law, there is a statute that may require your health insurance company to reduce the amount of their claim for reimbursement from you. There is another law in Colorado that can often be used to deny payment to your health insurance company completely. However, there are deadlines and requirements that you must meet
In some instances, you will be required to pay back your own health insurance company from your personal injury recovery. You should make certain that your attorney will handle this part of your case for no additional charge. They should also negotiate the best possible offer from the at-fault driver's insurance company, your lawyer should try to consult with your own health insurer to pay back as little as possible. In any event, you should speak to an attorney that will not charge you to discuss your rights.
You may submit your questions, or talk to an attorney, free of charge, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.