Why the Latest Attempt at Florida PIP Reform Must be Stopped
by Daniel Melmed
It’s true; there is too much fraud and abuse in the world of Florida’s auto insurance medical care benefits.
In Florida, the law mandates that every driver carry no-fault PIP (personal injury protection) benefits. PIP allows for a guaranteed amount of at least $10,000 in medical payments to help heal injuries from car accidents, no matter who was at fault.
This is one of the few kinds of insurance that massage therapists are actually able to bill directly. It’s a good thing too, because massage is particularly helpful when it comes to healing things like whiplash and other muscle strains and sprains to name a few.
Most major medical policies do not cover massage therapy (and definitely not at-home therapy), so without PIP, most accident victims would not have access to massage therapy through their insurance.
Why and how are our Representatives trying to reform PIP?
Many people abuse the system, finding ways to commit fraud and scam insurance companies out of money. This includes staging fake accidents, billing for services that never occur, and more shady practices. The cost of this trickles down to Florida consumers who pay more for insurance as a result. This is the problem.
The latest proposal from the Republican side of the State House being pushed by Governor Rick Scott is attempting, among other things, to limit mandatory medical benefits to emergency services provided within a few days of an accident. This means that essentially there would be no massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic or other types of rehabilitation therapy readily available to the majority of individuals who do not have this coverage elsewhere.
Yes, this is bad for those of us who make part (or in some cases all) of our living providing these services, but it is also very bad for the individuals who will not be able to afford to pay out of pocket for the therapy they will really need. Many people require months of therapy, if not more to try to get back to normal. Without these benefits, they stand to suffer much longer term and possibly worsening effects from the injuries. It can negatively impact work life and burden families.
I applaud efforts to improve the system and reduce costs for policy holders, but the law should focus on the problems: fraud and abuse, rather than essentially scrapping the whole system. Florida roads are dangerous and these benefits are too important to eliminate. We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
If you agree, please contact your state government representatives and tell them to say no to HB 119 and efforts like it to redefine PIP benefits.