When talking to people who have been injured in automobile wrecks, I am frequently asked which insurance should be used to pay for the ongoing medical bills: Health insurance? Automobile insurance of the at-fault driver? Medical payments coverage?
Many people assume that only the at-fault driver’s insurance should be billed for your treatment. This is incorrect, mainly because, in North Carolina, the responsible automobile insurance company only pay one settlement at the end of your treatment, which should include reimbursement to you for all of your medical bills. Most medical providers will not wait that long for payment and will report you to collection agencies if they are not paid promptly.
Instead, you should provide your own health insurance information to your medical providers and insist that they bill your health insurance. With a few exceptions, such as Medicare, your health insurance is the primary source of payment for your medical bills. This is because, regardless of who caused the wreck, you are the one needing the medical treatment, so the payment for that is your primary responsibility.
On top of your own health insurance, hopefully you have Medical Payments coverage (med. pay., or MPC) on your own auto. Insurance policy. This is a no-fault, automatic coverage that you pay premiums for that pays you the amount of your medical bills up to the amount of the coverage you purchased. This is typically a small coverage amount, between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00. You simply provide to your automobile insurance agent medical bills arising from a wreck, and your agent should arrange for you to get a check in the proper amount. You can then use that money to reimburse yourself for co-pays and deductibles, lost income, or even a down payment on a new car.
Once you have finally obtained a settlement from the automobile insurance company of the person who hurt you, you may or may not have to repay your health insurance company for the medical bills it paid. This is an increasingly complicated area of the law and is beyond the scope of this article.