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How can I afford to go to a doctor if I don’t have insurance?

A lack of health insurance can prevent you from receiving medical care at a hospital or doctor’s office. Fortunately, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) ensures public access to emergency medical care regardless of ability to pay. This guarantees that any medical treatment needed directly following the accident, such as EMS and ER care, is rendered but does not absolve you from having to pay for it. You are responsible for your medical expenses, whether or not you have health insurance. You cannot force a doctor or other medical provider (other than emergency room) to provide you with medical treatment.

However, by hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your case, many medical providers then feel more comfortable that if they provide you with treatment, they will eventually get paid. In that instance, the medical provider will file a medical lien against your case to insure that they are paid out of your recovery in the case.

Sometimes you may have to search for a doctor or other medical provider to treat you on a lien basis. In some cases, your medical providers send your unpaid bills to a collection agency. Most collection agencies realize that when a personal injury lawyer is involved that in most cases they will end up getting at least a portion of their claim paid out of your recovery in the case. In cases of an auto accident, also check your own auto policy for medical payments coverage (“med pay”), which is also available to pay medical expenses as they come due. The most common med pay coverage is $5,000, so in cases of serious injury, this doesn’t provide much benefit.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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