Written by Taher Kameli & Eso Akunne
Physicians having issues with medical debt payments often fall into two categories:
(1) Patients who were injured in an accident lacking good health insurance who subsequently hire an attorney to file an insurance claim against the responsible party.
(2) Chiropractors, doctors or physical therapists who provide treatment, on a lien basis, agreeing to wait for payment of their services when the case is settled.
How do you ensure payment?
Physicians have often come to attorneys asking for payment for services rendered when a case settles or a judgment is made, to receive news that the attorney argues they have no obligation to ensure they get paid. Understandably, many physicians under these situations are confused, frustrated, and don’t know the best course of action.
Before getting to this point, it is important to note the preventative measures one can take as a physician to ensure the lawyer working in conjunction with your patient becomes responsible for your reimbursement; one main one being a Doctor’s Lien. Doctor’s Liens or Letter of Protection (as it is also called in some states), creates a fiduciary relationship, making the lawyer trustee of settlement funds for the benefit of the client, the doctor, and, finally, the attorney.
It is very beneficial to have a Letter of Protection, as it’s a separate contract that ensures the doctor that, although he won’t be paid upfront, he will be paid when the case receives recovery whether by settlement or trial. If the lawyer wins money for the case, he or she is obligated to make sure the physician who treated the case receives his medical expenses out of the funds acquired. If the case is not settled, and no recovery is acquired from the case, the client who was injured is still obligated to pay the bill. The medical provider still has the right to pursue the patient for the full costs of the bill just like any other time they are owed money.
It’s important to note that if you have a Doctor’s Lien, you can leverage that quickly in conversations with the attorney. Attorneys are subject to Professional Discipline or even disbarment for not following through with the contractual obligation to pay the physician in these situations. It is important to let the attorney know that you know this. It can be assured that they will act swiftly.
What if you don’t have a Doctor’s Lien
If you, unfortunately, didn’t take the preventative measures mentioned above, all is not lost. Collection agencies, and even better, law firms, can assist you in your issues with collecting payment. Law firms, especially with legal remedies at their disposal, have several proven methods that generally motivate debtors (in this case, patients) to pay or set up a payment plan quickly to avoid the legal cost. There’s something about those law firm letterheads that gets everyone’s act together. Attorneys are held to an even higher standard of conduct in comparison to collection agencies, as they are not only subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but also the Rules of Professional Conduct as practicing attorneys.
In working with attorneys’, doctors are using the most effective and timely method in which to settle their collection issues. The Law Offices of Kameli and Associates help physicians to collect on their unpaid medical bills. Please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at email@example.com or 312-233-1000, for representation if your medical bills have not been paid in a timely manner.