Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions Inc. – Full Opinion

(1) Was Hanif correct that a tort plaintiff can recover only what has been paid or incurred for medical care, even if that is less than the reasonable value of the services rendered? (2) Even if Hanif, which involved Medi-Cal payments, reached the right result on its facts, does its logic extend to plaintiffs covered by private insurance? (3) Does limiting the plaintiff’s recovery to the amounts paid and owed on his or her behalf confer a windfall on the tortfeasor, defeating the policy goals of the collateral source rule? (4) Is the difference between the providers’ full billings and the amounts they have agreed to accept from a patient’s insurer as full payment—what the appellate court below called the “negotiated rate differential”—a benefit the patient receives from his or her health insurance policy subject to the collateral source rule? We address these questions below.