Indianapolis Serious Injury Attorney Discusses Hospital Liens
As we all know a serious car accident, a drunk driving accident, a construction accident can lead to very serious personal injuries. As Indiana’s Serious Personal Injury Law Firm, representing Hoosier all over the State from our Indianapolis Offices, we have seen those injuries, including broken bones, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, amputation and paralysis. These injuries lead to lengthy and costly hospital bills. If the injured person does not have health insurance, or if the person depends on Medicare, the hospital has the right to file what is called a Hospital lien. This lien was authorized by the Indiana legislature, and can be found at the following Indiana Code citation: I.C. 32-33-4-1. This lien gives the hospital the right to collect all the money for the charges made from the injured persons personal injury claim. Now, you say, what is wrong with that? Well, in principal, there is nothing wrong with that, but the reality is much different.
When a person has private health insurance, the hospital submits the bills to the insurer, which then “writes down” the bill to the “Reasonable” charges for these medical services. For those of you lucky enough to have private health insurance you have seen this. The hospital bill is say, $20,000.00. The insurance company determines that the reasonable bill is $11,000.00 and the $9,000.00 is written off by the hospital. Remember what I’m saying, the reasonable bill is only $11,000.00. Therefore when the hospital writes off the other $9,000.00 they are agreeing the $9,000.00 is not reasonable. Now take the person without insurance, or the person with Medicare. They are billed, by the hospital, $20,000.00. There is no write down by an insurance company. This person is obligated to pay the full $20,000.00 even though if they had private pay insurance, the hospital would have admitted that $9,000.00 of the bill is not reasonable. That is not fair!!
In addition, when the money is collected through the injury claim, the private pay insurer has to share attorneys fees with the injured person. Thus out of the $11,000.00 the injured party recovered from their suit, they have to pay the insurer 2/3rds of that amount because the injured party had to pay the attorney and it is only fair that the insurer has to pay also. The hospital does not have to share the attorneys fees, they get all their money even though a large percentage of the money is not a reasonable charge.
We say, change I.C. 32-33-4-1 to require that the injured person only has to pay the reasonable amount of charges, and that the hospital must pay their fair share of attorneys fees.