As a personal injury attorney in Colorado, I must ask myself: “How does Obama-Care affect my clients and how does it impact their claims in Colorado?”
It is to that end that this article is written; to help those injured, and seeking justice for their injuries, navigate newly charted waters formed in the wake of “Obama-Care” and understand how this affects them: good, bad or ugly.
In this case, spoiler alert, the “changes” brought about by “Obama-Care” seems to be mostly positive as it relates to those injured by third parties.
“Obama-Care” and the Need For Future Care.
Over the years, many of my clients have had the same questions as their cases near resolution or trial: “What happens in the future if I have a flare up or my symptoms return, what do I do then? Who will pay for my care in the future if/when my symptoms return? Will I have to pay for future care out of my own pocket?”
Pre – “Obama-Care”
Prior to the roll-out and implementation of Obama-Care, if a client’s symptoms flared or returned (and a client did not have health insurance, or, would later need to change health insurance companies), that client would need to pay for his or her future care in one of two ways: (1) out of other portions of any award or settlement they received; and/or, (2) out of their own pocket (and often without a discount!).
To minimize the risk of this outcome, however, claims for future treatment were, and must still, be made in demands or at trial. Often, I will have a “life care plan” (a report prepared by either a doctor, certified life care planner, and/or an economist wherein the full cost of a client’s future care is estimated or calculated) created to quantify the out of pocket costs a client will likely incur in the future for medical care and treatment.
However, it is important to understand that although future treatment can be made part of a personal injury claim, and a life care plan can be prepared, future damages are still often labeled as “speculative” by insurance companies and, are all too often, denied.
This reality was often a very difficult pill for my clients to swallow; and rightly so.
Post – “Obama-Care”
Fast forwarding to the post-“Obama-care” world in which we now live; my ability to provide comfort to my clients regarding future care has greatly improved. In part, this is because no one can be denied health insurance for “pre-existing” conditions (and any care for a “pre-existing” conditions must be covered regardless of whether it was the result of a third-party’s negligence or wrong doing).
Thus, the mandate that pre-existent conditions be covered by health insurers has already provided a great deal of relief to my clients who were once concerned about the cost of their future care.
“Obama-Care” and The Need For A LOT of Future Care.
Similarly, many of my clients who were catastrophically injured often had even more cause for concern about their future care. You see, in many catastrophic injury cases, there is often insufficient auto liability insurance and/or under-or-uninsured motorist coverage available to pay for all the intensive and expensive future care and treatment required.
Whether the person who causes you injury has enough liability insurance is, at times, simply a matter of luck. This unfortunate reality has led to many catastrophically injured clients, at some point or another, to reach into their own pocket for future treatment (even if they had health insurance).
In addition to mandating that pre-existent conditions be covered by a policy, “Obama-Care” also mandated that any and all “caps” be removed from health insurance policies. The removal of “caps” from policies now ensures that those who are catastrophically injured will always have at least some assistance from health insurers in securing future treatment, regardless of the striking driver’s, or the “at fault” driver’s, insurance policy limits.
So, The Verdict Is In…For Now
Overall, it seems “Obama-Care” will have a mostly positive impact on personal injury claims in Colorado and provide a “safety-net” for recovery