Many of our clients have been injured in automobile or other motor vehicle collisions. Those who are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid often ask if they should use these governmental benefits to cover their medical expenses related to the crash, or whether their auto insurance will cover those bills.
The answer is: your no-fault insurance is the proper source for medical payments in these situations. Medicare and Medicaid are not obligated to cover injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions in Michigan. Because we have a no-fault auto insurance system to cover these expenses, Medicare and Medicaid can save money by not duplicating the no-fault coverage. However, sometimes the bills are sent to the government agency by mistake, and are paid before anyone realizes that the bills are not the responsibility of Medicare or Medicaid. The government will want that money back — from you!
If you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, or both, and you are injured in an incident involving a motor vehicle, please be sure that the hospitals or medical offices you visit for treatment have your auto no-fault claims information on file from the beginning. This will reduce the possibility that Medicare or Medicaid will be billed for these services. When Medicare or Medicaid make such payments, the programs have a right to recover–from you–the money they paid in error. This can complicate and delay your case for money damages, because Medicare and Medicaid can place a lien (hold) on your settlement until they are paid back.
Your no-fault carrier is responsible to repay Medicare or Medicaid for expenses that were mistakenly covered by governmental benefits. But you don’t want to be in that position, because if your no-fault insurance declines your bills because it says that the injuries are not auto-related, you could be stuck in the middle of a dispute in which Medicare doesn’t pay because it says your injuries are auto-related, and where your no-fault says that they are not. Meanwhile, you are personally responsible for paying for any medical care you receive, and disputes with your insurance company do not change that fact!
To summarize: Never use your Medicare or Medicaid benefits to pay for anything to do with your treatment for motor vehicle injuries! Use your no-fault coverage. That is the way no-fault works.
Source: 437 Mich 368; 404 Mich 477