Car insurance may be the reason you’re denied medical care after an accident

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Image for article titled Your car insurance could be the reason you were denied medical care after an accident

Photo: Johan ORDONEZ / AFP (Getty Images)

After crashing her car, teenager Frankie Cook was denied help at an urgent care facility in Roma, Georgia. Why? His auto insurance NPR reports.

Although it may seem intuitive that your health insurance covers everything health things, there are actually a few caveats. If you have an accident while driving or in your home, your auto or home insurance may actually be responsible for the costs of your medical bills.

Here is the situation:

“‘We don’t carry liability insurance'”, Russell [Cook, Frankie’s father] Atrium Health receptionist Floyd Urgent Care Rome said, though he wasn’t sure what she meant. “She told me, like, three times.”

The cooks were ordered to the emergency room, which, according to the law, to have to see all patients, whether they are insured or not. Emergency room doctors gave Frankie Cook a quick exam and two CT scans before prescribing rest and Tylenol. Subsequently, the Cook family received a bill for their care totaling $17,005.

So what happened here? NPR explains:

Lou Ellen Horwitz, CEO of the Urgent Care Association, says it’s fairly common policy for urgent care centers not to treat injuries resulting from even minor car accidents. “Generally, as a general rule, they don’t deal with car accident victims, regardless of the extent of their injuries, because it’s going to go through this car insurance claims process before the provider is paid,” she said.

Horwitz says urgent care centers — even those in large health systems — often operate on thin margins and can’t wait months and months for an auto insurance company to pay a claim. She says that “unfortunately” people tend to learn about these policies when they show up waiting for care.

After 16 months that included a legal dispute to remove duplicate charges and the family’s healthcare provider, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, pledged to foot part of the bill, the cooks were finally left with a charge of $1,042.

Most people don’t know about these insurance policies until they are forced to find out the hard way, like cooks. So use their example to research what your insurance situation looks like and prepare a care plan if you are involved in an accident.

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