This is big.
We’ve all had cases where either gaps in medical treatment or the type of medical treatment sought wasn’t quite what it could have been because the plaintiff didn’t have health insurance.
Of course, the general rule is that either party’s financial status – and whether or not they have insurance – are inadmissible.
There is some potential unfairness whichever way this goes. If the plaintiff can’t testify that she hasn’t returned to the doctor because she can’t afford it, it might sway a jury to find in her favor. If she can’t explain why she didn’t go back to the doctor, it raises an inference that she was no longer in much pain.
A Fifth District case, Vanoosting v. Sellars, addresses these concerns, holding that the trial court erred in excluding testimony about Plaintiff’s health insurance. I think this is the right decision.
(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney in Rock Island, Illinois. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com)