CalBizLit has posted on numerous occasions on the cases addressing this question: "Just what does a personal injury plaintiff get when her medical bills are $200,000 but the hospitals and doctors have deals with the insurance companies, Medicaid (or MediCal as we Californians call it) or Medicare to take a whole bunch less as payment in full?" Previous posts are here, here and here. The defense has Hanif v. Housing Authority (1988) 200 Cal.App.3d 635 and Nishihama v. City and County of San Francisco (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 298 both holding that the plaintiff only gets the medicals that were actually paid. After a concerted effort, the plaintiff side had Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions holding to the contrary: that the plaintiff could recover the entire amount billed, regardless of what the providers too as payment in full.
But no more. Last week, the Cal Supremes granted a hearing in Howell, describing the issues to be decided as follows:
(1) Is the "negotiated rate differential" (the difference between the full billed rate for medical care and the actual amount paid as negotiated between a medical provider and an insurer) a collateral source benefit under the collateral source rule, which allows plaintiff to collect that amount as economic damages, or is the plaintiff limited in economic damages to the amount the medical provider accepts as payment? (2) Did the trial court err in this case when it permitted plaintiff to present the full billed amount of medical charges to the jury but then reduced the jury's award of damages by the negotiated rate differential?
So Howell is no longer citeable authority, and until the Supremes decide (many months from now), the only published decisions on these questions are the Hanif and Nishihama, both favoring the defense.