Hospital liens are also known as medical or provider liens. They are claims enacted against the proceeds of a personal injury litigation settlement. Hospitals utilize liens to recover medical expenses associated with the emergency medical care of a patient. As a consequence of hospital lien laws, medical institutions and providers are routinely filing claims against patient’s settlement awards to maximize their profits instead of billing a patient’s primary and secondary insurance. The most common scenario that results in a hospital lien is emergency room treatment of an injured person due to an automobile accident.
History of Medical Lien Laws
Lien laws began to appear in the United States in the 1930s. Their purpose was to ensure that hospitals and medical providers would have a payment source when treating indigent patients or those who did not have health insurance. In 1951, Florida legislation was passed granting all hospitals in counties with over 325,000 residents the right to impose liens against patients through special acts or ordinances. The constitutionality of lien laws has been and remains a controversial subject in the legal arena. In 2012, the Florida Supreme Court heard the case of Shands Teaching Hospital v. Mercury Insurance Company. The court upheld the constitutionality of the lien law through local ordinances.
How Lien Laws Benefit Hospital Systems
Hospitals bypass primary and secondary insurers to pursue higher fees from patient settlement awards. Chargemaster rates are the unnegotiated private pay costs of medical services. These rates are highly inflated, as much as four times the amount that health insurances pay for claims. Private insurance companies and government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans programs negotiate a much lower reimbursement rate for treatment and care. Therefore, the hospital has much to gain when the patient’s lawsuit settlement becomes the payment source at chargemaster costs for hospital care.
Impacts of Hospital Lien Laws on Patients
A settlement or award from a personal injury lawsuit, including possible punitive damages, is meant to cover lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, and the cost of future rehabilitation services. When a hospital issues a lien, the patient is expected to pay the hospital medical costs at exorbitant chargemaster rates. The medical provider’s name may even be listed on the settlement award check to comply with lien laws. Liens have a drastic impact on a patient’s credit score and their financial future. It leaves the patient with little or no compensation for expenses needed to recover from an accident. A patient may even owe money after the settlement is completed.
Settling Hospital Liens and Medical Bills requires Aggressive Legal Representation
Lien laws are very complicated and require an experienced attorney to develop negotiation strategies to reduce or eliminate a lien. Patients that experience financial impacts due to lien laws need aggressive legal representation. A skilled personal injury attorney can ensure that medical liens do not absorb the patient’s entire settlement award.
Ogle Law, LLC is a successful personal injury law firm knowledgeable about reimbursement and lien negotiations for hospital services. We have a proven track record in analyzing and challenging liens asserted on a personal injury settlement, resulting in a higher economic recovery for an injured plaintiff. Let us discuss your options and legal rights to reduce your financial burden, allowing you to keep the compensation you deserve.
Contact Ogle Law, LLC, at 386-287-0234 to schedule a free case review at our offices in Daytona Beach or Gainesville, Florida.