Did you get a Claim of lien in the mail from a local hospital?
Accident victims are having liens filed against them in the public records by a few Hillsborough County Hospitals. This page is designed to demystify the CLAIM OF LIEN you got in the mail.
It can be scary to get one of these in the mail. These liens are official-looking, and sometimes it’s the first time you see how much the hospital charged for your recent visit.
Here are a few things you need to know about Hospital liens in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Hillsborough County Hospital liens are governed by Hillsborough Couty Code of Ordinances, Part A / Chapter 28 – Health / Article IV. – Hospital Liens.
The great thing about the Hillsborough County Lien ordinance is it provides a few protections to you the consumer, that are not listed in the notice of lien.
First, the ordinance limits the amount the hospital can claim is due against you personally, and Second, the ordinance prohibits the hospital from attempting to collect more than that amount.
Here’s how it works:
1. Hillsborough hospital liens are limited to the applicable lien rate
There are a few things about the Hillsborough County Hospital Lien ordinance that are important to understand. Maybe the most important thing to know is, what is the applicable lien rate?
The applicable lien rate is defined in Sec. 28-139 of the Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances.
For uninsured patients, the most critical part of this section is (2) where the language limits the lien to what is customarily paid to the lienholder by the Medicare Act.
This is great news for most patients! According to data from the American Hospital Association (AHA), who collects aggregate data regarding payments and costs associated with care delivered to beneficiaries of Medicare by U.S. hospitals. The total cost of services to Medicare beneficiaries was more than the reimbursements in 2015; their findings concluded:
- For Medicare, hospitals received payment of only 88 cents for every dollar spent by hospitals caring for Medicare patients in 2015.
- Underpayments in 2015 of $41.6 billion for Medicare.
It’s hard to generalize, but I have seen vast differences in what hospitals bill and what Medicare pays; in my experience Medicare usually pays about 10 – 15% of the billed amounts by hospitals.
So that huge hospital balance on your Claim of Lien is not what you own. Frankly, I think most people misunderstand the claim of lien; and I suspect that’s just what the hospitals want.
2. Hillsborough hospital liens are governed by an election of remedies
If the hospital chooses to file a claim of lien against you, they forgo other rights. Most importantly, they are barred from seeking any additional compensation from the patient concerning the patient’s care for things covered by the lien. Also, the lienholder is prohibited from enforcing the terms of a letter of protection.
That’s Great for most accident victims! That means you don’t have to pay that big number on the Claim of Lien.