Faculty voice:

Rebecca Wyatt: No-fault protection

April 29, 2015

Rebecca Wyatt is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, and serves as medical director at Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center, in Mason, Michigan.

One of the great luxuries that our government and economy affords us is that we live under the umbrella of many protections that we may not even realize we have. In Michigan, our system of auto no-fault insurance is certainly one of those protections. It is unfortunate that even protections such as these are continually under attack by legislators and special interests. While many citizens may be aware of the term “no-fault,” far fewer understand what this really means to us as Michigan drivers.

Living in the “Information Age” also means that we are living in the “Mis-Information Age,” and much has been written to muddy the waters surrounding both the intent and the reality of Michigan’s auto insurance system. As a physician and medical director at Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center, I am privileged to see firsthand the medical victories that are achieved on a daily basis as a result of the protections that auto no-fault provides.

Briefly, the Michigan No-Fault Act provides for lifetime coverage of reasonable and allowable medical expenses for those injured as a result of an automobile accident, regardless of who is at fault.

To Michigan drivers, this means that those who sustain auto-related injuries that require months, years, or even a lifetime of care, are afforded the opportunity to rehabilitate and reclaim their lives to the greatest extent possible without the added obstacle of arbitrarily imposed limits on the breadth, length or cumulative cost of their medical care. To the Michigan medical community, this means that we are able to offer our patients the nation’s most complete, comprehensive and successful medical rehabilitation services.

While acute medical care following an auto accident tends to have a finite duration, the subsequent rehabilitation process, particularly when brain injury is involved, is often a much lengthier endeavor; one that presents a far greater challenge in terms of predicting the duration of care.

Many of the miraculous recoveries that we witness at Origami would simply not occur if brain injury survivors did not have the protection of uninterrupted funding to support their rehabilitation. Our clients often come to us with their quality of life at risk, needing to relearn even the most basic cognitive, physical and emotional abilities.

Given time and proper therapeutic support, the brain has an amazing capacity to create new pathways to support these abilities, laying the necessary foundation for more advanced rehabilitation. Cutting the process short, however, would mean denying many clients the opportunity to fully realize a life-changing recovery, and in some cases putting their lives in peril due to a premature or ill-advised return to the community.

While there are numerous arguments put forth to cast a shadow upon our insurance system, compelling evidence exists in every case to support the wisdom and benefit of the Michigan No-Fault Act as a means to simultaneously control insurance costs and provide world-class health care services to auto accident survivors.

More importantly, to those of us on the front lines of brain injury rehabilitation, our daily experiences tell a more real and compelling story than the numbers ever will. Our ability to stay on the cutting edge of brain injury rehabilitation science and philosophy, and leverage that knowledge in the care of our clients, is the critical factor in consistently achieving superior outcomes in terms of return to independence and restoration of quality of life – not to mention the socioeconomic benefits of in many cases returning clients to their roles as active and productive contributors in our community.

I am lucky; I get to witness the reaffirming and life-saving results of the Michigan No-Fault Act on a daily basis at Origami. If you don’t have that opportunity, I urge you to do the research. Our insurance system provides you and your loved ones with a unique protection of financial and physical wellbeing that should not be taken for granted. We should all take steps to protect it.

Photo by G.L. Kohuth