Accidents can have a lasting impact — not just physically and emotionally but financially too. You may need scans, tests, medication, surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, ongoing checkups, and counseling.

All that medical treatment certainly doesn’t come cheap, so it’s vital to understand your options for paying your bills while minimizing the financial strain on you and your family — especially if you’re currently out of work. This overview of your options for paying medical bills after an accident — from insurance to a personal injury claim — will help you know where you stand.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is one of the primary methods of paying medical expenses after an accident. Most policies cover surgery and hospitalization, but every provider differs. Deductibles, copayments, and coverage limits can all affect how much you’ll have to pay.

Most providers also only authorize payment for specific treatments — often from a chosen medical provider. You should contact your insurer if you’re unsure what your policy covers.

Liability Insurance, Personal Injury Protection, and MedPay Coverage

If you’re in a road accident, you can typically pay some or all of your medical costs via liability insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), or MedPay coverage.

PIP is mandatory in some states and covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault. MedPay is an optional add-on — except for in Maine and New Hampshire, where it is required.

MedPay typically covers ambulance fees, appointments, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, x-rays, and prosthesis, but unlike PIP, it does not cover lost wages if you cannot work.

All drivers in the 38 fault states (plus the District of Columbia) must have liability insurance to protect themselves and injured parties after an accident. PIP may be optional in your state, but you should check your policy to see if you have this type of insurance, as it may have been included by default.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp) benefits can pay your medical bills and a percentage of your lost wages if you’re injured at work. To claim workers’ comp, you must report your accident to your employer, who will ask you to complete a claims form detailing your injury and how, when, and where it happened. Your employer will then submit your claim to the insurance provider.

Every state has different requirements for workers’ compensation claims. For example, in Wyoming, employees must report their accident within 72 hours. In Minnesota and Utah, employees have 180 days — or just under six months — to inform their employer about their injury.

Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory in all but one state: Texas. However, Texas employers may still have a policy for the protection it provides. If you’re injured at work in the Lone Star State and your employer doesn’t have insurance, you can potentially file a personal injury claim. This entitles you to other benefits, such as your total lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering. However, unlike with a workers’ compensation claim, it’s not enough to show your accident happened at work — you must also prove your employer was negligent and that their negligence caused your injuries.

You should consider consulting a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio if you suffer a work injury in Texas. An attorney can explore your options for recovering compensation and gather evidence proving your employer is at fault. 

Payment Plans

Medical providers may offer financing options if you cannot pay for treatment upfront, including medical credit cards and payment plans. Medical credit cards often include an interest-free period, allowing you to avoid incurring interest if you settle your debt within a specific time. However, if you cannot afford treatment because you are not working — and you’re not sure when you’ll be earning again — you may struggle to make payments on time and incur significant fees on top of your existing bill. This can also affect your credit score and entitlement to future personal finance.

An alternative is to inquire about financial assistance or charity care, which can reduce the cost of your care. Some programs cover the total cost of treatment if you meet the eligibility criteria.

File a Personal Injury Claim

If someone else’s negligent actions caused your accident, you might be entitled to file a personal injury claim. A successful claim can compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the accident.

While you don’t need to hire an attorney to file a personal injury claim, having an experienced lawyer in your corner has many benefits. A personal injury attorney will gather evidence proving the defendant is liable, negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies, and protect your interests throughout the legal process. They may also be able to defer your medical bills until you receive your payout, allowing you to focus on your recovery — rather than how you will pay for treatment.

Government Assistance Programs

Government assistance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare provide free or low-cost medical care to help cover your medical bills after an accident. If you are 65 or over or have a disability, end-stage renal disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), you may be entitled to Medicare. 

If you’re pregnant, a senior, disabled, receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or on a low income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. As Medicaid is a joint federal and state program, the eligibility criteria and application process vary by state

When applying for Medicaid, you must provide evidence of your income and assets — such as property and bank statements. There’s no guarantee of acceptance, so you should apply as early as possible so you know where you stand.

Paying medical bills after an accident can add stress to your plate when you are likely already vulnerable. Fortunately, you have several options to reduce the financial strain so you can focus on the most important thing — your health.

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