Why 'lien doctors' skip billing insurance and risk not getting paid

There are a growing number of physicians who are profiting off of personal injury cases by agreeing to treat patients in exchange for a lien tied to any award in the lawsuit, according to The Wall Street Journal.

These "lien doctors" are waiting to get paid through personal injury lawsuits because the arrangement can be more lucrative that billing insurance companies. To help ensure a larger payment, these arrangements typically require patients to sign a contract barring them from submitting claims to their insurance company.

"It is so lucrative to provide lien care," Henry Lubow, MD, who has been a medical-billing expert in thousands of personal injury cases, told The Wall Street Journal. Lien bills are as much as seven to 25 times higher than the amount insurers will pay, he said.

Plaintiffs' lawyers argue that physicians who treat on liens give patients broader treatment options. This arrangement can be especially beneficial for uninsured patients, according to the report.

However, critics argue that "lien doctors" drive up the cost of litigation.

These arrangements, which are on the rise due to legal and legislative changes in several states, can be a win-win for the physicians and patients, but both also take on risk. If patients lose in court, the physicians risk not being paid and the patients could potentially be on the hook for a large medical bill.

Access the full article from The Wall Street Journal here.

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