Obamacare’s Impact on Alabama Personal Injury Claims
This article discusses the potential impact that the PPACA ("Obamacare") may have on Alabama personal injury claims. Specifically, the article dicusses how medical liens currently affect an injured individual's recovery. The article also explains how the PPACA may actually allow personal injury victims to obtain a larger portion of their overall recovery.
Following an accident, many injured individuals cannot obtain proper treatment for their personal injuries due to a lack of health insurance coverage, either because a pre-existing condition or financial difficulties prevents them from obtaining coverage. Thus, in many instances, personal injury lawsuits never truly reflect the actual amount of damages that an individual sustains in an accident.
However, because of the passage and validation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” personal injury victims may be allowed to obtain adequate treatment in the near future. Specifically, injured individuals who could previously not afford health insurance are likely to qualify under the Act’s expansion of Medicaid.
Under the Medicaid expansion, persons who fall below the federal poverty line will generally qualify for Medicaid. This provision may be significant in Alabama personal injury lawsuits because roughly 25% of Alabamians between the ages of 19-64 meet the criteria for inclusion into the expansion, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In addition to the availability of treatment to Alabama personal injury victims, the Act may allow injured Alabamians to receive a larger share of any recovery they obtain from their accident. Under the current system, some hospitals refuse to turn over a patient’s bills to his or her insurer because the insurer will require the hospital accept a lesser, more accurate reflection of the costs of services provided. Thus, many individuals are left with inflated medical bills and subsequent liens on their personal injury claims that constitute almost all of the victim’s recovery.
The PPACA may reverse their policy and provide personal injury claimants a window to pocket more of their settlement or verdict. Of particular interest is a section of the law that mandates that 501(c)(3) non-profit hospitals limit medical bills charged to patients who qualify for the hospital’s financial assistance program to amounts “generally billed to individuals who have insurance covering such care.” Many commentators believe that this provision will eventually lead to smaller, more accurate liens on personal injury cases and, therefore, more money in the client’s pocket.
Regardless of predictions, one thing is certain: the Act is an extensive piece of legislation and it will take time to discover its full impact on Alabama personal injury claims.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Whit Drake
Drake Law Firm is located in Birmingham, Alabama but represents personal injury victims statewide. Attorneys at the firm primarily represent injured Alabamians with claims regarding auto accidents, tractor trailer wrecks, wrongful death, and work place accidents.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.