After crashing her car, teenager Frankie Cook was denied assistance at an urgent care facility in Roma, GA. Why? Her automotive insurance, NPR reports.
While it might seem intuitive that your health insurance should cover all things health, there are actually some caveats. If you sustain an accident behind the wheel or in your home, your automotive or home insurance may actually be responsible for the costs of your medical bills.
Here’s the situation:
“’We don’t take third-party insurance,’” Russell [Cook, Frankie’s father] says the receptionist at Atrium Health Floyd Urgent Care Rome told him, though he wasn’t sure what she meant. “She told me, like, three times.”
The Cooks were instructed to head to an emergency room, which by law must see all patients, regardless of whether or not they’re insured. Doctors at the emergency room gave Frankie Cook a cursory examination and two CT scans before prescribing rest and Tylenol. Afterward, the Cook family received a bill for her care that totaled $17,005.
So, what happened here? NPR explains:
Lou Ellen Horwitz, CEO of the Urgent Care Association, says it’s a pretty standard policy for urgent care centers not to treat injuries that result from car crashes, even minor ones. “Generally, as a rule, they do not take care of car accident victims regardless of the extent of their injuries, because it is going to go through that auto insurance claims process before the provider gets paid,” she says.
Horwitz says urgent care centers — even ones owned by big health systems — often operate on thin margins and can’t wait months and months for an auto insurance company to pay out a claim. She says “unfortunately” people tend to learn about such policies when they show up expecting care.
After 16 months that included a legal dispute to remove duplicate charges and the family’s health provider, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, stepped up to pay some of the bill, the Cooks were finally left with a charge of $1,042.
Most people don’t know about these insurance policies until they’re forced to find out the hard way, like the Cooks. So, use their example to research what your insurance situation looks like and have a care plan ready should you be involved in a crash.