Ed Ness

Ness

If you are among those whose auto insurance is coming up for renewal then you’ll soon have a choice to make regarding your coverage. A little over a month ago, changes to auto no-fault insurance legislation took effect that have promised to reduce rates and costs for auto owners around the state. Of course, it’s also important to read the fine print.

As savvy consumers, we all want to save a little money whenever we can — but when it comes to insurance coverage, it’s important to carefully weigh the risk between short-term savings and protecting ourselves in the event of an accident. After all, the very purpose of insurance coverage is to financially protect ourselves from the unforeseen and unexpected.

Research conducted in 2019 for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association found that 38 percent of insured Michigan motorists and 52 percent of those who have no auto insurance have been in a serious car crash or know someone who has been in a serious crash. Each year we see these patients come through the doors of our hospitals with severe auto-related trauma. These are patients who potentially require long-term hospitalization, rehabilitation, and for some, months, years or even a lifetime of home-based assistance and the costs associated with that care.

Under changes to state insurance law that became effective July 1, policy holders have a choice: maintain current unlimited personal injury protection or select options that would provide dramatically less coverage or no coverage at all for medical needs resulting from an auto accident.

Selecting a lower-dollar-coverage maximum payout for medical bills may save a few dollars in the short-term, but could create a huge financial burden for anyone who experiences a life-changing accident. So as you review your new policy options we believe it’s important to be aware that:

  • While the new law allows someone to sue the at-fault driver for unpaid medical bills, receiving that money would depend on the at-fault driver’s level of liability insurance coverage or their ability to personally cover that cost.
  • Choosing to use health insurance coverage through an employer to pay for medical bills is dependent on continued employment which could be impacted depending on the severity of the accident.
  • Most health insurance policies do not cover items such as medical transportation, home modifications and attendant care.

Nearly two thirds of the patients who use Munson Healthcare facilities are covered by Medicare. Unlike an auto no-fault policy, Medicare does not cover long-term or custodial care, residential treatment programs, transportation services to and from appointments, vehicle modifications, alternative pain management or wage loss. Under Medicare, physical, speech and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment (like wheel chairs or walkers) and home modifications are only partially covered with annual limits on many of those services.

As a non-profit hospital system, Munson Healthcare will always provide high-level care to any patient regardless of coverage. We are here for our community. This is our mission and purpose. It’s important to be aware that the choice each of us makes regarding our auto insurance has the potential to impact not only our own mental, physical and financial health but that of others as well. It’s for these reasons we ask you to consider retaining unlimited personal injury protection as you review and renew your auto coverage.

Learn more about the auto insurance changes by visiting munsonhealthcare.org/advocacy and clicking on the State Issues button on the left side of the page.

Ed Ness is president and chief executive officer of Munson Healthcare.

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