LAS VEGAS — If you’re hospitalized after an accident, shouldn’t you be able to use your health insurance to cover the bills? Recent changes to Nevada law are designed to address that issue.
Previously, when someone was transported to a hospital after a car accident in Nevada, the hospital might not have always checked to make sure the patient had health insurance. Instead, it would rely on payouts that the patient might get from their car insurance or a lawsuit — and leave the patient on the hook for any remaining bills.
Attorney Justin Watkins, partner in the firm Battle Born Injury Lawyers, says that had major consequences for the people being billed.
“They weren’t at fault for a car accident, they get hit, they go to the hospital — and they come out of that with a lien recorded in the public record,” says Watkins. “And so, when they go to buy a house or buy a new car because their car was smashed, it would pull up on their credit reports that they had a medical lien against them.”
Watkins says the new state law requires hospitals to first serve a notice of intent to file a lien, so the debt doesn’t automatically enter into the public record.
Now that the new law is in effect, Watkins says it’s important for people to understand their rights.
“First things first — you have a right to use your health insurance, and to have your health insurance pay for the medical treatment that you receive,” says Watkins. “You also have a right in that situation, where you’ve been in an accident, to not have any medical lien recorded against you in the public records. “
Watkins says if you’re hospitalized, you should let the hospital know you have health insurance as soon as possible. And if the hospital has a contract with your health-insurance provider, they must first bill that provider before they can file a lien against you, for any amount.