Maryland car accidents can be expensive. Individuals injured in these accidents often notice the costs piling up in the aftermath—medical bills and expenses from the crash itself, follow-up medical treatment required to recover, not to mention repairing damage to the car, and suffering lost wages due to the accident. One of the things that help Maryland residents, specifically low-income residents, pay for everything is Medicaid, a government program that provides health insurance to over one million people in the state. But sometimes, hospitals may refuse to send the bills to insurance providers like Medicaid, and instead may pursue strategies to charge accident victims full price.
The New York Times recently reported on this shocking practice. According to their article, wealthy hospitals have been quietly using century-old hospital lien laws to increase their own revenue at the expense of poor car accident victims. They use what is called a lien, which is a claim on an asset (such as a home) to make sure that someone repays a debt. By refusing to charge insurance providers the discounted price and taking out a lien instead, they can cripple car accident victims financially, right at the time they are struggling the most. One woman involved in a crash owed $12,856 after the hospital pursued a lien, even though Medicaid would have only had to pay $2,500 for her care. The liens cause accident victims to feel as though a cloud is hanging over their recovery. Some go into debt to cover their subsequent bills, all because they are being preyed upon by a wealthy hospital under an old law.
While it’s concerning, to say the least, in many states, it is perfectly legal.