Medicare is the federal health insurance program. If payments are made by Medicare for your accident-related health care needs, Medicare will have a lien for reimbursement on your California personal injury settlement.
By having a lien, this means Medicare has the right to reimbursement from your personal injury settlement. Your attorney will notify Medicare of your injury, and they will initiate a process to determine, what, if any, payments were made in relation to your accident case. This process is paperwork intensive and can take quite a long time. In some cases, your case might settle, but everyone will be waiting for weeks or more for Medicare to finish its investigation.
In some cases, insurance companies will initiate their own investigation to make sure they are not ignoring (even inadvertently) a potential Medicare lien. They will ask you to fill out paperwork to begin this investigation, but your lawyer can take care of this.
Some insurance companies will insist on including Medicare as a payee on your injury settlement check unless they receive assurance from Medicare that no payments were issued by them. You can imagine if Medicare is listed on your check, it can take weeks to get them to sign that check and return it.
In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate your Medicare lien so it doesn't take such a bite out of your final settlement.
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by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,