The Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act was put into effect to essentially ensure that medical providers are paid for their services by allowing healthcare professionals and providers to place a lien on all claims arising out of a patient’s injuries. However, the Act does provide some protection to the patient as it limits the amount the healthcare professionals and providers may recover from the amount received by a Plaintiff for their injury claim. 770 ILCS 23/1, et seq. It is important to note that personal injuries pursuant to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act are not subject to the Health Care Services Lien Act. The Act outlines what healthcare professionals and providers must do in order to create and perfect a lien. Furthermore, the Act prescribes a formula for the judge to apply in determining the amounts each party will receive. Although medical providers are entitled to payment for services rendered.
The Act places several obligations upon the healthcare professionals and providers, including notice of service. Healthcare professionals and providers must serve (by registered or certified mail or in person) the injured person and the party against whom the claim exists. 770 ILCS 23/10(b). The service must include a notice of lien that contains the name and address of the injured person, the date of the injury, the name and address of the healthcare professional or healthcare provider, and the name of the party alleged to be liable to make compensation to the injured person for the injuries received. Id. Additionally, if a medical provider fails or refuses to comply with a written request and medical authorization signed by the patient or patient’s representative within 20 days requesting (1) a written statement of the nature and extent of the injuries sustained, (2) the “treatment, care or maintenance given or furnished for the injured person,” and (3) the history, if any, as provided by the injured person as to how the injuries were sustained, the lien is considered null and void. 770 ILCS 23/25.
The Act provides that healthcare professionals and healthcare providers (such as hospitals) that render any service in the treatment, care, or maintenance of an injured person "shall have a lien upon all claims and causes of action of the injured person for the amount of the healthcare professional's or healthcare provider's reasonable charges up to the date of payment of damages to the injured person." 770 ILCS 23/10(a). However, the total amount of liens under the Act "shall not exceed 40% of the verdict, judgment, award, settlement, or compromise secured by or on behalf of the injured person on his or her claim or right of action." Id. If there are multiple liens between healthcare professionals and healthcare providers, then the Act provides that neither of the liens of the healthcare professionals nor the liens of the healthcare providers shall exceed 20% of the final awarded amount. 770 ILCS 23/10(c). If there is only one lien, the Act expressly dictates that no individual healthcare professional or healthcare provider may receive more than one-third of the awarded amount. Id.
Although healthcare professionals and providers are able to place a lien upon a patient’s settlement award, the Act provides a way for injured patients to receive treatment regardless of their ability to pay. In his article “Injured, Insured, but not Protected,” Daniel C. Katzman describes that injured patients may not be able to benefit from negotiating rates between their medical providers and health-insurance companies. Katzman further explains that an injured patient may be held personally responsible for payment of the entire medical bill, while an insurance company may only have to pay a fraction of the cost. Although the Act appears to cap medical bills at a maximum of 40 percent of the total settlement, medical providers are not required to bill an insured patient’s health-insurance company for treatment related to his or her injuries. Instead, the Act allows medical providers the right to seek payment directly from the injured patient for any remaining balance on the bill. In turn, the patient may be placed in a very difficult predicament if the case is lost or compromised.
If you have recently suffered injuries requiring medical treatment, it is important to contact an attorney in order to maximize the potential damages award. Medical bills must be paid, whether by the insurance companies or the parties involved, including the injured party. To ensure you are not on the hook for medical bills to healthcare providers, contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Sherwood Law Group at 312-627-1650 for a free consultation and case review.