Utilizing Letters of Protection
What do you do when your patient’s Personal Injury Protection benefits have run out and they still need treatment?
Do you stop treating? Do you treat them and hope you get paid? What if they can’t make any payments for your service?
It comes down to a balance of treating people in need and making the appropriate choices in running a business.
A Letter of Protection from your patient’s personal injury attorney may be what the doctor ordered.
A letter of protection states that when the personal injury case settles, the attorney will pay you directly from the settlement proceeds – before your patient receives any money. While it doesn’t guarantee payment, Letters of Protection may well provide the security you need to continue treating your patient.
Not all Letters of Protection are created equally. Like a loan only being as good as the collateral behind it, a Letter of Protection is only as good as your patient’s case.
Before Accepting Letters of Protection
Before accepting a Letter of Protection, ask the attorney:
- Are there any problems with liability?
- Are there concerns with force of impact, pre-existing conditions or gaps in treatment?
- If PIP has denied the claim, what is the remaining available PIP benefits?
- Does the patient have unpaid balances with other providers?
If the attorney is not answering these questions, it’s possible that the Letter of Protection may not be worth the paper it’s printed on.
We recommend that you check in with the attorney’s office every few months to make sure the balance owing under the Letter of Protection is an amount the attorney feels they can ensure you will receive payment. The higher the balance, the less likely you may be fully reimbursed for the treatment you’ve provided.
Determining Valid Letters of Protection
It’s critical to make sure that the letter you receive from the attorney is, in fact, a Letter of Protection. Recently, a provider sent me a Letter of Protection that they received from a patient’s attorney. It clearly was not a letter of protection.
It said: “…… “……. has informed me that I am to pay your office out of any settlement or recovery. Worth noting, my office is not personally liable for these bills. If there is a clerical error, ……, my office will not be personally responsible, but I will take reasonable precautions to make sure your office is paid …”.
This is not a Letter of Protection. The attorney did not take any precautions to make sure the provider was paid. They gave all the money to the client. The provider heard nothing from the attorney.
Our Letter of Protection is simple, straight-forward and clearly protects the provider:
It is our policy to protect the interests of doctors, hospitals, and others who have rendered services for our clients’ injuries. If you will be willing to hold this account and not send it to collections, we will protect your bill and will promptly pay you out of the net proceeds received from settlement or trial before distributing funds to the client.
Pay close attention to the letter you receive from your patient’s attorney. If you have any questions, give us a call and we can let you know if it is, in fact, a Letter of Protection.
We understand that you care about your patients and that you want for them to receive the treatment they need. While we appreciate your care and dedication, we also support you in making good business decisions so that you’re able to care for all the patients in your practice.