Where can you turn for financial assistance if you or someone you love requires substantial medical care after a car accident?
Medical care is expensive for everyone, but for the accident victim it can be overwhelming. You need to be informed on the most common types of treatment and fundraising options to cover those treatments.
Accident victims need different types of treatments from different medical professionals depending on the nature of their injuries. Physiotherapy services are perhaps the most common, but some victims also commonly need chiropractic treatment and massage therapy. Some victims may also require counseling or psychiatric services, and others may require substantial assistance from pain clinics to manage extreme pain. In the cases of more serious injuries, treatment may include surgery and serious rehabilitation.
The cost of medication and necessary medical equipment must be considered with your potential medical expenses as well. In many cases, a gym membership, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of physical fitness are also helpful for the recovery process. A doctor or therapist may be able to teach you exercises to perform at home between visits, but with many physical injuries a gym membership can speed up the recovery process and help control pain.
If more severe injuries are sustained other medical services may be utilized, such as neurology services. Those services can be even more expensive, and the more serious condition may involve more expensive medications and a heavier dependence on medical equipment. More substantial injuries may require longer term care as well, which means medical expenses continue to hold you down for months if not years.
Getting Money for Medical Treatment
You may be required to pay full or partial payments for your medical coverage, even as a victim of an accident. That may seem overwhelming when the bills first start rolling in, but there are multiple ways you can cover these expenses.
If you have private insurance through an employer, union, or another source, that policy should cover some of your medical expenses right from the start. Every plan has limitations as far as what types of treatment they will cover and what limitations are in place for coverage. You may need to have your doctor fill out paperwork to secure your benefits, but that may not be necessary with all plans.
If you are on premium assistance, you will more than likely qualify for a Medical Services Plan, or MSP. This is available for citizens earning less than $24,000 a year who are enrolled in premium assistance, and it is a valuable resource for treatment coverage when an accident occurs. The MSP will only pay a set amount for up to 10 visits each year. MSP will pay $23 for each visit in all of the following fields of treatment:
- Massage Therapy
You can find a more comprehensive list of covered MSP treatments at www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/index.html.
What About ICBC?
ICBC policies will cover part of your necessary treatments, but remember you have to pay user fees every time you use this coverage. For more serious injuries, an occupational therapist will likely be assigned to coordinate treatment efforts between different medical providers and your own efforts at home. The occupational therapist can also suggest modifications to your work duties and methods of transportation to facilitate faster recovery.
The exact amount you must pay for services under your ICBC plan depends on the medical professional that you select. For instance, three different chiropractors will charge three different prices, so you would be required to pay a different user fee for each of them. When you call to set your appointment, make sure to ask the exact amount of the user fee so you are not caught off guard.
ICBC is known to deny some treatment from time to time, even for those who desperately need the treatment. They do have the discretion to approve and deny for their own reasons, but you should not give up if you are denied. Write ICBC and ask for an official letter stating that you were denied and listing the reasons for the denial. This protects you by showing that you tried to seek treatment. This prevents them from later saying you are denied financial compensation for your injuries because you did not seek treatment and properly care for your injuries.
If you feel you are qualified to receive ICBC coverage, you can start the process by filling out the CL22 form. There are other forms of coverage that can be obtained, but this gives you a general idea of what is available to most accident victims. The Regulations to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act gives a more exhaustive listing of coverage available, or you can go to www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/reg/I/InsurV/InsurV447_83/447_83_00.htm to see the unofficial (and free) version. Just click on the link that says “Part 7.”
You may also qualify for some treatment coverage from CPP disability and BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA). You will not cover all of your medical expenses in this manner, but it can help you out. Go to www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/isp/cpp/disaben.shtml to learn more about CPP disability benefits.
You have probably heard of a creditor placing a lien on property until it is fully paid off, and you can do the same thing with services from select medical providers. These medical providers provide services without payment now in exchange for a lien on the settlement you will eventually collect for your accident claim. Once the claim is settled, the outstanding fees are paid to the medical provider.
Liens are not available for everyone, and you will need a lawyer to ensure the lien is fair and properly enacted. While liens can help you raise the funds needed to cover medical expenses right now, they can be risky. You cannot be certain what you will be awarded in your settlement, so there is the possibility of being left with a lingering balance once your settlement is issued and all available funds are sent to the medical provider. You will be required to pay out of pocket to pay off the medical provider in those cases.
Out of Pocket
If you can do some fundraising through friends and family members or just out of your savings, you can pay for your medical expenses yourself and then include the expenses in your claim against those responsible for the accident. You will need to document all of your expenses by saving receipts for medication, medical equipment, and items purchased for at-home exercise and other treatment options. You will need to ask your medical providers for statements detailing all of your expenses from their services to complete the documentation.
Some personal injury lawyers can help pay for treatment … even user fees not covered by ICBC. In fact, good injury lawyers in BC will set up private medical appointments and finance treatment recommended as a result of those appointments in the case of long-term injuries. Therefore, when looking for a lawyer, be sure to ask about whether that lawyer has the resources and is willing to pay for independent medical examinations in the event your injuries do not heal 100%.
Note that if your lawyer pays for treatment and/or independent medical care, you will have to agree that you reimburse your lawyer from any settlement funds / court award.
Receiving full treatment cost compensation at the end of the day
I know the concept of user fees seems absurd. You’re hurt and it’s not your fault, yet you’re still out of pocket for treatment. User fees add up.
I realize it’s not a great deal of consolation, but any out-of-pocket expenses you incur while getting treatment is added to your claim. As long as the treatment is recommended by your doctor and is for treating injuries sustained in a car accident not caused by you, you stand a very good chance of recovering all of those expenses.