So if you have not heard, the auto no-fault insurance law has changed in Michigan for medical providers. After nearly 40 years of permissible statutory action under the no-fault act, the Michigan Supreme Court abruptly changed the law for medical providers. The case that changed the law is Covenant v State Farm (here). Simply, the court held there is no “statutory right” of action by a medical provider against a no-fault insurer. That is it; the Supreme Court in Covenant did not eliminate any other legal form or right of action available to medical providers. Notwithstanding the foregoing, considerable hand-wringing analysis and unnecessary worry has been discussed and written about the new era of medical provider no-fault litigation. This article will avoid that useless hyperbole and get to the point for medical providers: get your insurance billing assignment from your patient after treatment and you are good to go. Per 3143 of the no-fault act, only assignments of future benefits is prohibited. Neither that section nor the act itself, prohibits the assignment of past or presently due benefits. And the Supreme Court in Covenant even expressly acknowledged this very point of law in footnote 40 of its opinion. So, with an assignment of past or presently due benefits, a medical provider may file suit against a no-fault insurer for unpaid charges incurred by the patient. Careful drafting of the assignment is recommended so as to not create unnecessary parsing of words by the auto insurer and/or courts. And while mechanically awkward or not typical of medical office management, again, have your patient sign the insurance billing form on the way out the door, after treatment. You are flipping your paperwork/intake process; or, you are simply adding the billing part of the paperwork to the end of the visit. This is critical because, otherwise, the no-fault insurer will accuse you of violating section 3143, i.e., obtaining an assignment before treatment — they will argue — is an assignment of future benefits. Destroy this argument against payment by obtaining your assignment after treatment.
For more questions and/or assistance in drafting no-fault assignments for billing no-fault, medical providers are welcome to contact Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C.
Authored by L. Page Graves
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Page Graves now helps members of the same community who need legal help with Michigan No-Fault Automobile Insurance Law, representing medical service providers and severely injured people in collecting unpaid and underpaid no-fault benefits. A partner with Smith & Johnson in Traverse City, Mr. Graves has been repeatedly included in the annual Best Lawyers since 2012.
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