Who pays for the Medical Forensic Exam?
Understanding the various options available to survivors for paying for the MFE can be helpful should you receive any questions. Paying for the cost of medical care after a sexual assault can be a real barrier for survivors in deciding whether to seek medical care. The cost of the MFE is covered by several different entities including law enforcement, Colorado’s Crime Victim Compensation, the state Sexual Assault Victim Emergency Payment Program (SAVE) (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-407.5 (b)), or the survivor’s health insurance.
The MFE bill is essentially understood in two parts. The first part is the evidence collection portion of the MFE. This is paid for by the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred (Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-407.5(1)) or by the SAVE fund. The hospital sends the bill directly to these agencies . A survivor should never receive a bill for this as state and federal law prohibits survivors from being charged directly or indirectly for this portion (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-407.5 (b)).
The second part of the MFE is all the medical care a survivor receives after a sexual assault. This can vary from emergency room charges, to CAT scans, to medications and other things. These bills are sent to different places, based on the type of report a survivor makes (see the reporting options page).
If the survivor chooses anonymous or medical reporting (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-407.5 (b)):
- The SAVE fund covers the cost of evidence collection and most associated medical fees related to the medical care a survivor receives after an assault. If the survivor has health insurance that can be billed for the non-evidence collection related costs, it will be, unless a survivor specifically requests the hospital does not bill their insurance. In the case a survivor does not want their insurance billed or does not have insurance, the SAVE fund is there to assist. Survivors cannot receive reimbursement, so it is critical they understand they should ask about any bills they receive from the medical facility if they have chosen medical or anonymous reporting.
If the survivor chooses to report to law enforcement (Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-407.5(1)):
- In this case, as noted above, the evidence collection portion of the MFE must be billed to the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. For other associated costs, the survivor can use their own insurance if they have it and want to use it and/or they can apply to Colorado’s Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) to cover the expenses beyond evidence collection. Victim advocates who work for your law enforcement agency (or community-based advocates if your agency does not employ advocates) will assist survivors in completing their application to Crime Victim’s Compensation so they can get those costs covered if they decide to go that route.
If a survivor seeks medical care, does not have evidence collected, and does not report to law enforcement, then it is likely their insurance provider will be billed the cost of their medical care if they have insurance. If they do not have insurance, the survivor and their victim advocate can work with the medical facility to set up payment plans or identify other possible funding sources. It is really important to connect a survivor with advocacy resources in your agency and in the community in which they live.
If a survivor does not have evidence collected but does choose to report to law enforcement, then they would be eligible to apply for Colorado Victim Crime Compensation to cover their medical care.