Why you need to use your health insurance after an auto accident

Many people who suffer injuries after an automobile accident in North Carolina are under the mistaken belief that they shouldn’t use their health insurance to pay for their medical expenses.  This is absolutely incorrect.

USE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE!  I can’t say this enough.  And despite the fact that I say it all the time, especially to my own clients, it doesn’t quite seem to sink in.

Yes, eventually we’ll try to make the at-fault party’s auto insurance reimburse you for all of these expenses, but when the bill comes due, that’s not going to help you.  If you have health insurance, you should use it.  “Why?,” you ask…

  1. We are not a PIP state.  In PIP (personal injury protection) states the victim’s auto insurance is the primary payor for accident related medical expenses. In NC, YOU are the primary payor (or your health insurance if you have it!).  We can try to get all of that money back (and more?) from the adverse party’s insurance, but that normally doesn’t happen quickly.
  2. When you use your health insurance, you get a discount.  When you don’t, you don’t.  For example, if you go to the ED and the bill is $5000, your health insurance probably gets away with paying $2000, and you pay a $100 co-pay.  The $2900 balance is written off, meaning you don’t pay it.  If you rely on the auto liability carrier for the at-fault party to pay that bill, they get no discount, so you pay the $5000 out of your settlement, meaning you lose $2900!  That’s a big deal, right?
  3. Most cases involving prolonged treatment after an auto accident normally take about 6 months or so to resolve.  Who is paying your bills in the meantime? If your health insurance isn’t, and if you aren’t, then no one is!  The at-fault party, IF they’re going to pay (and that’s never guaranteed), then they’re ONLY going to pay in the form of a lump sum settlement to you AFTER you release them of future liability.  What happens in the meantime?  You get sent to collections, probably.  What does that do to your credit?  Not good things.

In summary, health insurance health insurance health insurance.  Use it for the love of all things holy please listen to me.  Use your damn health insurance.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(P) 919-929-2992
(F) 919-636-4779

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