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Following a Car Crash, Does a Hospital Have to Bill to Your Private Health Insurance, or Can They Just Come After Your Settlement Proceeds?

In Morgan v. Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, 403 S.W. 3d 115 (June 28, 2013), the Missouri Court of Appeals held that St. Luke’s was not entitled as a matter of law under Section 430.230 [the Missouri Lien Statute] to assert a lien on the patient’s claim against a third party tortfeasor where the patient’s insurer had already paid the patient’s bill pursuant to its discounted payment agreement with the hospital. 

In Morgan, the plaintiff had been injured in a motor vehicle collision and treated at St. Luke’s.  Her insurer had paid her bill in full according to a discounted payment agreement between St. Luke’s and the insurer.  St. Luke’s sought to recover the rest from the patient’s personal injury settlement proceeds by returning the discounted payment to the insurer, and filing a lien for 100% of its billed charges against the at fault insurance carrier. 

Initially, the trial court granted judgment for St. Luke’s, finding that Section 430.230 granted St. Luke’s an unlimited right to file a lien on her third-party tort claim.

However, the Court of Appeals sided with the weight of authority from other jurisdictions that had construed similar statutes to convey no right to impose a lien against the claim of a patient against a third party tortfeasor for an amount beyond that dictated by the contract between the health care provider and the insurer [the discounted payment by the insurer had effectively discharged the debt].

In Morgan v. Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, 403 S.W. 3d 115 (June 28, 2013), the Missouri Court of Appeals held that St. Luke’s was not entitled as a matter of law under Section 430.230 [the Missouri Lien Statute] to assert a lien on the patient’s claim against a third party tortfeasor where the patient’s insurer had already paid the patient’s bill pursuant to its discounted payment agreement with the hospital. 

In Morgan, the plaintiff had been injured in a motor vehicle collision and treated at St. Luke’s.  Her insurer had paid her bill in full according to a discounted payment agreement between St. Luke’s and the insurer.  St. Luke’s sought to recover the rest from the patient’s personal injury settlement proceeds by returning the discounted payment to the insurer, and filing a lien for 100% of its billed charges against the at fault insurance carrier. 

Initially, the trial court granted judgment for St. Luke’s, finding that Section 430.230 granted St. Luke’s an unlimited right to file a lien on her third-party tort claim.

However, the Court of Appeals sided with the weight of authority from other jurisdictions that had construed similar statutes to convey no right to impose a lien against the claim of a patient against a third party tortfeasor for an amount beyond that dictated by the contract between the health care provider and the insurer [the discounted payment by the insurer had effectively discharged the debt]. 

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