If a victim of negligence doesn’t have insurance, how are their medical bills paid while the insurance company contorts itself (and often established medical science) to avoid paying for the damages they rightly owe? Often, those bills are covered by what is known as a Letter of Protection.
A Letter of Protection simply states that the letter-issuing law firm has agreed to protect a medical provider’s outstanding balance for treatment provided to the injured party and that upon resolution of the client/patient’s personal injury case, that bill will be satisfied when the personal injury case finalizes. In return, the medical provider agrees to cease all collection efforts until the case is finalized.
In the current political climate, one of the issues which has been most widely discussed and debated in Congress (and the media) has been Healthcare. The creation of the Affordable Care Act under the Obama administration, in large part, was meant to decrease, or (in a perfect world) eliminate, the number of uninsured individuals residing in the United States. While the number of uninsured individuals in this country has shrunk since the inception of the Affordable Care Act, it has not disappeared, and occasionally the quality of the plans available in the open markets is debatable. Suffice it to say, not everyone has excellent healthcare readily available to them.
When someone with a high-quality health insurance plan gets involved in a motor vehicle crash, or suffers a fall due the negligence of another, that person can get the treatment they need by using their health insurance and Personal Injury Protection. They won’t have to stress over the thought of owing medical bills out of their pocket. However, someone without quality health insurance, might find themselves afraid to obtain care that they need for fear that they will end up owing the bills personally if something goes wrong with the case.
Letters of Protection are for exactly this situation. As stated above, they protect the patient from being sent to collections while the case is ongoing, and (more importantly) they allow the patient to receive necessary care that they otherwise would be unable to receive.
If Letters of Protection allow injured individuals to receive necessary care for injuries which result from the negligence of others when they otherwise would not be able to receive said care, what is the problem?
The problem lies in perception. Or rather, it lies in the perception that insurance companies attempt to create about Letters of Protection, the attorneys that provide them, and the doctors that accept them.
When a doctor accepts a Letter of Protection, they are taking a risk. The risk is that they won’t be paid anything for their work. Meanwhile, when a doctor bills health insurance, payment is guaranteed (or at least, it is supposed to be; that is an issue for another time) at a previously agreed upon rate. However, due to the volatile nature of personal injury cases, the extended period of time the medical provider will go without receiving payment, and the fact that in many cases there is not a recovery large enough to pay all of a patient’s medical bills on cases which involve Letters of Protection, doctors will often receive payments that greatly exceed insurance and Medicare rates in cases where the patient is fairly compensated for their injuries.
Defense attorneys and insurance companies will often treat the existence of a Letter of Protection as unassailable proof that the doctor’s opinion about the reasonableness and necessity of the rendered medical treatment is tainted and biased. Oftentimes, entire personal injury trials turn into an inquisition of the doctors’ motivations for providing care.
Ultimately, Letters of Protection allow injured individuals to receive necessary care they otherwise would be unable to undergo. Insurance companies fight them because they fight everything; it’s how they increase their profits. Often, their entire attack is simply based on the idea that doctors make too much money. But it is important to remember, they provide a very important benefit for those in need.
If you were injured in a Florida car accident or slip/trip and fall and have questions about the nature of your rights, contact the Dolman Law Group, the premier personal injury law firm in the greater Tampa Bay area. We can advise you as to what steps you need to take after an accident under Florida law. Contact us today online or at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
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