Can You Refuse to Pay Medical Bills for Services Performed Without Your Permission?
March 29th, 2021|
After an accident or injury, your first priority should always be getting medical treatment. But as most Americans know, medical treatment in the U.S. isn’t cheap.
Even a single dose of over-the-counter pain medication can cost 10 times as much or more when administered in a hospital compared to when it’s purchased in a supermarket. Because of that, many injury victims are shocked when they get bills for their treatments, especially if they received treatment while unconscious or unaware of what was happening.
The “sticker shock” of medical treatments can lead to frustration and even outrage in many victims, and their initial reaction may be refusing to pay. But is that possible? As with most things related to injuries and the legal system, your ability to refuse to pay certain medical bills depends on whether you have an experienced law firm on your side.
Which Bills Are Most Often Contested?
It’s difficult to contest bills for life-saving procedures, such as emergency surgeries to repair internal organ damage. But not all injury-related services are always obvious needs.
Some victims are transported to hospitals via ambulances even when they don’t request them. That’s because a bystander may call 911, which dispatches multiple emergency responders, including EMTs. When those EMTs arrive at the scene in an ambulance, they may transport the victim to the hospital even if they don’t consent to going or if they plan on arranging their own transportation to a medical treatment center.
Another scenario is a victim being transported to a hospital via helicopter. While this can be a life-saving measure for victims who are injured in remote areas where ambulances either can’t reach in time or can’t get to at all, it’s not always necessary. But when it happens, victims are stuck with bills that can be tens of thousands of dollars.
Overnight Hospital Stays
Staying in the hospital overnight can cause an ER trip to go from expensive to nearly impossible to pay for many victims. But not all victims want to stay overnight, especially if they don’t think their injuries are serious. However, doctors and other healthcare providers may strongly recommend it, and patients may be hooked up to so many monitors and tubes that they have little choice but to stay—incurring big bills in the process.
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
As mentioned above, the cost of a prescription or over-the-counter medication in a hospital is vastly different from its cost anywhere else. It’s common for hospitals to administer both specialized medications to accident victims, such as anesthesia, steroids, and clotting drugs, as well as common over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers, stool softeners, diuretics, and heartburn treatments.
And while the former drugs are typically specialized and prescription only, the latter are commonplace medications that may be marked up 1,000% or more. The costs of these drugs only serve to add to already difficult-to-afford medical bills.
Non-Lifesaving Procedures Performed While Unconscious
Many serious accidents can cause victims to lose consciousness. Auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents can result in victims being knocked out for minutes, hours, or even days. And while they’re unconscious, hospital staff may perform procedures on them ranging from critical life-saving surgeries to procedures aimed at improving quality of life.
However, surgery is always extremely expensive, and it can require weeks or even months of rehabilitation. A single surgery can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the additional costs can add up to more than an average annual salary—and that’s with health insurance! Some victims may choose to forgo procedures aimed at improving quality of life, but they don’t have the option if they’re unconscious when the procedures are performed.
Almost All Medical Bills Can Be Negotiated, Especially with a Lawyer
If you disagree with or want to contest a procedure, prescription medication, or treatment on your medical bills, remember that you can always negotiate the amount you have to pay. And while outright refusing to pay typically isn’t an option, it’s possible to get your total bill significantly reduced, especially if you have an experienced legal team building your personal injury claim.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin have many years of experience helping patients maximize their financial recoveries after injuries that weren’t their fault. And a big part of that involves negotiating their medical bills, especially when they are being unfairly billed. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help.