A car accident recovery process can be long and cumbersome. Besides the physical pain you suffer, you will also have pilling medical bills and no way of footing them, especially if the injuries render you unable to work for a long time.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you may have an easier time paying your medical bills. However, the easy time does not come for free. The Medicaid program puts a lien on your settlement to ensure that the government recovers the funds used to settle your bills from the day of your injury to the day you recover compensation for your damages.
Understanding Medicaid Lien
To understand Medicaid lien, you must understand what “Medicaid” and “lien” are. Medicaid is a national and state-funded insurance program that caters to low-income families. On the other hand, a lien is a statutory right of a party to another person’s finances for payment of a debt they owe them.
An injury victim is expected by law to pay back funds paid by the Medicaid program on their behalf, which Medicaid achieves by placing a lien on the patient’s settlement.
Medicaid is not only interested in the funds recovered from a lawsuit settlement. They also hold a right to proceeds from personal insurance coverage or Medpay. There is no requirement for Medicaid to notify you of a lien in your settlements funds. The lien is automatic when Medicaid starts making payments for your hospital bills. But, you must notify Medicaid of any agreed settlements and pay up your lien within 30 days of the settlements payout.
Medicaid’s Effect on Your Recovery
A Medicaid lien does not affect the value of your compensation. However, it affects how much you can keep after receiving your payout.
Reimbursing Medicaid funds is simple; you just calculate the total amounts paid on your behalf by the program and pay it back. Nevertheless, recovery of the lien cannot exceed a third of the total payout, minus the legal fees.
If you had Medicaid and Medicare paying your bills, both programs would have a lien on your fund. However, the amount payable to both programs must not exceed a third of the total payout. Under such circumstances, Medicare gets priority. If the amount owed to Medicare exceeds a third, Medicaid will not receive anything. If it is less than a third of the payout, Medicaid will collect the difference between Medicare’s lien amount and a third of the total payout.
Why You May Need a Lawyer
As you may already have noted, lien law can be complicated. Also, the fact that Medicare lays claim to a certain amount of lien does not mean they can get it wrong. Therefore, it is essential to have a lawyer working with you on your case to protect your rights.
“With or without a lien, it is never a good idea to go into a personal injury claim without a lawyer, “says personal injury lawyer Charles Boyk. Working with a lawyer increases your odds of getting fair compensation by a significant margin, so you may want to have one.