North Carolina House Bill 542: Auto Reform Billed v. Paid
The following is a press release from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice which explains the House Bill 542 Billed v. Paid Auto Reform which passed two readings in the House earlier in June and passed its first reading in the Senate on June 6th.
RALEIGH, N.C., June 2, 2011– Republican leaders in the NC House today pushed through proposals that will benefit insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits, said the NC Advocates for Justice, at the expense of average North Carolinians.
“The Republican-led majority has said with this bill that it’s OK for people who hurt others to benefit from their victims. And they’ve extended that privilege to insurance companies,” said Todd Barlow of the NCAJ. “This is a bad bill that puts more money in the pocket of insurance companies, taking it from the innocent and the injured.” HB542 skews the rules of presenting a lawsuit to favor wrong-doers and their insurance companies. The “Billed v. Paid” provision would mandate that people hurt by the actions of others reveal the extent to which they are covered by insurance, while allowing defendants – those accused of wrong-doing – to keep their insurance coverage a secret.
The upshot is that the wrong-doer would benefit from the victim diligently having paid his/her insurance premiums.
Billed v. Paid Is a Bail Out
Imagine you are injured in an accident – rear ended by a drunk driver or attacked by an aggressive, unattended dog. The resulting injuries are serious – an ambulance ride to the hospital, perhaps surgery. None of it was your fault; yet as a result you rack up $10,000 in medical bills.
But you’ve been diligent about paying for insurance. The hospital charges $10,000, of which your insurance company pays $5,000. That leaves you to pay $5,000.
Right now, in trials, a victim like you asks to be compensated for the full amount of $10,000. The fact that you paid $5,000 and your insurance company paid $5,000 isn’t mentioned. After all, you paid for that insurance.
Tort reform lobbyists want to change that, and tilt the field against victims. Those lobbyists are wrong for two key reasons:
1.) You, the victim, paid for the health insurance. The discount would not have existed otherwise. And as a moral principle, the person harming you has no right to benefit from the ‘discount’ you paid for.
2.) This bill takes money you spent (for health insurance) to protect yourself and uses it to benefit of the insurance company of the person who harmed you. Your money in effect reduced the amount of restitution you received. In that sense it is a ‘bailout bill’ for insurance companies.
On top of all this, lobbyists only want victims to disclose their insurance situations, not defendants.
The NC Advocates for Justice today unveiled a new television and online campaign criticizing the Billed v. Paid bail out. HB542 now moves to the NC Senate, where Senators Phil Berger, Tom Apodaca, Pete Brunstetter, Neal Hunt and others may have a say on whether the legislation becomes the law of the land.