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Lien vs. Subrogation – A Primer

Most people don’t know the difference between a lien, subrogation rights, and rights of reimbursement.  Those who do know the difference often don’t care.  For instance, even on this blog we usually refer to a Medicare lien; however, Medicare does not (technically) put liens on your cases.  Medicare liens are actually Medicare-rights-to-reimbursement and subrogation rights.  But that’s a mouthful.  So we, and most lien resolution providers, use the term lien.  Furthermore, because these blog posts are meant to simplify lien resolution processes in an educational manner, we often do just that: simplify.

Subrogation: A legal technique under common law by which one party steps into another’s shoes.  Normally, this involves the insurer (I) stepping into the shoes of the injured party (P) so as to have the benefit of P’s rights and remedies against a third-party such as a defendant (D).  This means that I could act as a plaintiff in a suit against D, or even intervene in P’s suit against D.  Most private insurers have rights of subrogation.

Lien: A claim, encumbrance, or charge on property for payment of some debt, obligation or duty.  The most obvious lien is a mortgage.  However, in healthcare liens, the idea of a mortgage is somewhat incomparable.  The property in this situation is a settlement.  The encumbrance is a piece of paper (titled “Lien”) that prevents distribution prior to lien satisfaction.

The Medicare Super Lien: Medicare’s right-to-reimbursement is often referred to as a “Super Lien.”  This is because it takes precedence over all other payment rights (although plaintiff attorneys’ fees are factored as procurement costs and allowed in full).

Please understand that we may use certain terms interchangeably.  The terms and titles are much less important than the actual procedures.  In fact, Medicare’s agencies use more than 4,500 acronyms and terms.  Also note that regardless of whether you’re dealing with a lien, subrogation, or other rights to reimbursement, the outcome will be the same – you must protect your clients’ rights and resolve the “lien.”

If you need any assistance on lien resolution (or subrogation resolution), please contact lien resolution services.

Ryan J. Weiner
Co-Founder Lien Resolution Services
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

About Ryan J. Weiner

Co-Founder of Lien Resolution Services, LLC, a national healthcare lien resolution firm. Our goal is to assist in the fair administration and resolution of healthcare liens on personal injury cases. Please visit our website for more information: www.lienresolutionusa.com.

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