With all the snow and ice we’ve been getting this unusually cold winter in Portland, I thought I’d write about what resources you have in the case of a car accident. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine is very effective in healing both acute and chronic injuries, but motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) require some additional steps in order to access coverage for care, steps that most people don’t know about in advance.

According to Oregon law all motorists are required to have insurance that includes PIP coverage. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection and ensures that if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident you will have at least $15,000 available to cover the often high costs of healthcare. This includes trips to the emergency room, imaging, and doctor’s visits, but it also includes acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. And this benefit is yours whether or not the accident was your fault. PIP is not the same as your personal health insurance. The PIP will pay bills pertinent only to the accident; personal health insurance will only pay after PIP or settlement (if you have to go to court to get fees covered) funds are exhausted. To access your PIP benefits you must file a claim with your insurance company after the accident and fill out their paperwork. You also need to report the accident to the DMV using this form. From there a physician can open the claim for you, which includes chiropractors. PIP will also pay for missed wages if a doctor instructs you to take off of work due to injuries. It might be necessary for you to get a lawyer to represent you in the PIP case, especially if you were hit on a bike, if the other person is uninsured, or if your injuries are extensive and you have to use more than the allotted $15,000 in benefits. Your insurance company pays for your bills and the adjustor on your case decides what is medically pertinent, determining what they will pay for. Unfortunately, insurance companies are designed to keep their costs at a minimum and you may need someone to advocate for your right to care.

At Asha Integrative Wellness we see many people who have recently been in car accidents and are very experienced working within the bureaucratic world of PIP claims. People who come in for care immediately, and get integrated care (acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and physical therapy) tend heal faster. You do not need a referral or to have visited the emergency room first to receive care. You can also start care later if you did not realize at the time that you had this benefit or if your symptoms took awhile to show up. It can take a few days or even weeks for symptoms to arise, which is also why I suggest getting care immediately even if you think you don’t need it.

Acupuncture, cupping, bodywork, and moxibustion are incredibly effective tools in dealing with pain and inflammation from injuries of all kinds especially since there is almost always a mental and emotional component. More than other modalities and medical frameworks, Chinese medicine has the ability to address this facet of healing. This is very important when dealing with motor vehicle accidents, which often involve some kind of PTSD that can persist even after the physical healing is done. I also especially love cupping immediately after an accident. It loosens up frozen and inflamed tissue immediately, alleviating the worst of the pain.

Our clinic is a great resource for you when dealing with a motor vehicle accident. Our chiropractors can access you for serious injury and make necessary referrals for imaging, and our integrated approach can get your healing on track fast. Even if we’re not your choice for care please seek out medical attention. It’s much easier to prevent chronic pain and compromised mobility than address the problem later, so don’t wait even if the accident is minor.

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