Medical payments insurance is optional in Missouri.  This kind of insurance, also known as “med pay”, will pay for your medical costs up to the limits stated in the policy.  Most policies cover you, your family members, or any passengers in your car who are injured as a result of the accident.  Medical payments coverage will pay your medical bills, regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident.

You might be asking, “But I was not responsible for this accident!  Why should my insurance company pay anything?”  This is a very good question that we get asked frequently.  There are many reasons why medical payments coverage is a good idea in Missouri.

First of all, the other driver’s liability insurance carrier will not pay your medical bills as they come in.  Let’s suppose that you are struck in the rear by a gentleman who has liability insurance.  You certainly don’t want to settle your case with this insurance company until you have finished all of your medical care.  However, you might receive medical treatment for six months to a year after the accident.  The liability insurance company isn’t going to pay your bills as you go along.  They will only repay you for the medical bills you have incurred over that time period when you are ready to settle your case.  However, that doesn’t mean that the doctors and hospitals that treated you are willing to wait a year to be repaid.  They expect you to pay your bills while your case is open.

Of course, if you have health insurance, your health insurer will probably pay the bills while your case is open.  However, medical payments coverage is a nice supplement to your health insurance coverage for several reasons.  First of all, your health insurance might require you to repay them for what they have paid on your behalf.  In other words, your health insurance might pay your medical bills while the case is open, but they might be entitled to require you to repay them when your case is settled.  Medical payments coverage that is provided through a Missouri automobile insurance policy cannot require you to repay them for what they have paid.  Therefore, this results in more money in your pocket when your case settles.

Furthermore, medical payments coverage will pay close to 100% of any medical bill you submit to them, up to their policy limits.  On the other hand, your health insurance may pay the hospital or doctor’s bill at a deeply discounted amount.  This is important, as the other driver’s attorney will argue to a judge that the true value of your medical expenses is not what the doctor or hospital charged you, but what you and your insurance company paid for the treatment.  For example, if your emergency room bill was $3,000.00, but your health insurance carrier only paid a discounted amount of $500.00, then the attorney for the defendant will argue that you should only be able to present a medical bill of $500.00 to the jury, rather than a bill for the full $3,000.00.  On the other hand, if you submitted that same $3,000.00 to your medical payments carrier and the medical payments carrier paid $3,000.00 to the hospital, then you get to argue to the jury that your bill was, indeed, $3,000.00.

Another reason that medical payments coverage is useful is that you can use it to help you pay your copays if your health insurance coverage is paying for your hospital and doctor bills.  Copays can add up over time, and this will certainly help you defray the cost of getting better while your case is pending.

Finally, medical payments coverage is very cheap – much cheaper than health insurance premiums.  You can sometimes get medical payments coverage up to $10,000.00 for an additional premium of only a few dollars a month.

Next time you renew your insurance, ask your insurance agent about medical payments coverage.  If the coverage is relatively inexpensive, it can turn out to be a very good investment in the event you have an accident. 
Jill S. Bollwerk
Helping St. Louis area residents with personal injury, workers' compensation & insurance appeals/disputes.