Medical Bill Debt Collection Practices: UVA

In light of the recent Washington Post article about UVA Health System’s practice of suing thousands of patients, seizing paychecks and putting liens on homes, we wanted to offer some advice for getting your medical bills paid if you’ve been injured as a result of a car or work accident.  Mounting medical bills from car or work accidents often cause a great amount of stress on the injured victim.  Just when you’re trying to heal and get back on your feet, threats of collections and garnishments compound your stress and problems.  Recently, UVA’s medical bill debt collection practices have become a big problem.

UVA Lawsuits Against Patients

The Washington Post reports that UVA Health System “stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it goes after payment, pursuing the poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they are worth . .  ”  The Post cites a study performed by the Kaiser Health News which showed that UVA sued patients for as little as $13.91 as as much as $1 million from 2012-18.  The study showed that UVA even sues about 100 of its own employees every year who owe money from being patients.  Obviously, UVA debt collection practices have become an issue.

Uninsured Patients and Payment Plans

Uninsured patients or those out-of-network often have difficulty paying the hospital sticker prices.  At court proceedings, collections representatives sit near the judge’s bench and inform patients that they need to set up payment plans.  However, those payment plans are frequently five-year plans to pay off tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt.  Often, UVA patients are forced to resort to filing bankruptcy because they can’t possibly keep up with medical bill payment plans as well as their living expenses.

In some instances, UVA has seized funds intended for college, put liens on houses, and blocked University of Virginia student enrollments for patients who have outstanding balances.

So, if you’ve treated at UVA Health System after a car accident, how do you keep UVA from breathing down your neck?

Can I Use My Auto Insurance?

The answer is YES . . . maybe.  If you have an extra coverage on your policy called “medical expenses payments” or “med-pay”, you can use your car insurance immediately to help pay for your medical bills.  And, if you have more than one car on your auto policy and live in Virginia, you may have access to additional med-pay coverage.  Check out our article on “How to Get Your Medical Bills Paid After a Car Accident” here.

How do I get my med-pay money?

So, you have med-pay coverage and you’ve decided to turn your auto accident medical bills into your own car insurance company.  How do you go about doing this?  After the accident happens, call your car insurance company and let them know you’ve been involved in an accident and you’ll be submitted bills for med-pay.  You’ll want to get a claim number from them.  Once you have the claim number, you can submit the bills with a letter referencing the claim number and asking for reimbursement.

********WARNING****************** — When you submit your medical bills to your insurance company, they will probably want you to sign a release so they can get the medical records that go with the bills.  They will want to check the medical records with the bills you submitted to make sure the bills are really related to the accident.  Here’s the tricky part.  Our firm advises all of our clients NOT TO SIGN a release, even with their own insurance company.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, we request and gather all of the medical records for our clients, so they never have to sign a blanket release with the insurance company.  The danger in signing such a release is that you don’t have control over what records the insurance company gets or what is done with those records.  But, if you are handling your case on your own, you may decide that signing the release is worth the risk.

How Do I Get My Work Injury Bills Paid?

If you were injured at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should be paying your medical bills as long as the treatment was authorized.  If the workers’ comp carrier is refusing to pay your injury-related medical bills, you should seek the advice of a lawyer.

Talk To A Lawyer For Free

Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.  For a free case evaluation, send us some info about your case by clicking here.

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