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Question

Asked 1/4/2008

Can Doctor refuse medical care because you owe them money?

Doctor refused to call in medication because of money owed to office. Went in an paid $50 on account ($450) and Doctor still refused to call in medication. Doctor finally called it in but stated would not call in any more to till they were paid more money. Is this legal?

 
 
 
 
Answers

Answer 1/56 - Submitted 1/4/2008

Doctors are in business too. They have bills to pay like everyone else. If they worked for free, they couldn't sustain their business, so I think they have a right to refuse service if you're not paying for the service they offered.

 
 

Answer 2/56 - Submitted 1/4/2008

Yes they can. If you go to an emergency room or something they can't deny you medical treatment, but a private practice absolutely can and most do because that is what drives up there cost as well as insurance premiums for everyone.

 
 

Answer 3/56 - Submitted 1/4/2008

Yes, it is legal, and as Jodi said, while the ER cannot deny you care, a private physician can. You may want to talk to your doctors billing office and set up a payment plan. Until your balance is payed off your doctor may still see you but require you to pay for the new visits in full at least until you have a 0 balance. Try to remember that your doctor is offering you a service and has overhead to pay like any other bussiness owner.

 
 

Answer 4/56 - Submitted 3/13/2009

They cannot. Doctor's take the hippocratic oath which requires them to provide their specialized services when necessary. While they can use the court system to collect by garnishment or any other legal means, they cannot just ramdomly refuse service once a patient is under their care. This constitutes a breach of contract, i.e. the contract of continuing care once it has begun. To medically divorce a patient it is required to send a certified notice to the patient who is thereby notified to seek other professional services. Why is the public so ignorant about this when it's welfare depends on it? laurie

 
 

Answer 5/56 - Submitted 3/13/2009

Calling in a prescription is a bonus. If you go to the office and the doctor writes you a prescription to treat some condition, that is another matter. The office visit would cost you something. You want a prescription called in so that you don't have to visit the office; maybe a renewal, or maybe something new. You want to be treated over the phone. The doctor may not be ready to trust that your condition is as you say, he may want to see you and examine you to be sure that the prescription is safe and effective for you. That would fall into the do no harm part of the Hippocratic Oath.

As far as the ER being forced to treat all comers, the EMTALA law only applies to emergency conditions. Once the emergency is over, there is no requirement to treat. The ER could do a screening exam, and, if there is no emergency condition, refer you to a family doctor, or a specialist for further treatment, although they usually just go on and do the whole job because they are nice, and because they don't want to be yelled at.

 
 

Answer 6/56 - Submitted 8/15/2009

I realize there are laws that may say technically a doctor does not have to treat a patient, but there are good somaritan laws about performing CPR and other things pertaining to a person's welfare. Surely it can not be legal to completely cut off a patient who needs medical attention if a doctor has made an agreement to pay monthly, change doctors ect... If a person makes every effort to pay what they can, a am positive there is a law that would hold up in court, if that person dies or is seriously hurt because the doctor never wrote a prescription that was needed.

For example: my child has 3 doctors we must pay (we also have 2 other children) and our doctors office verbally agreed with us that we make payments for past bills (we had these bills for maybe 3 months at most), we were paying each month and the doctor sent us to collections and dropped us anyway. Our son needs a written prescription every month and was waiting to see a new doctor to get his monthly prescription. Without his meds, he could be seriously ill or die! The past doctor took almost 2 months to send our records to the new doctor and when asked to write that new prescription, they said "it was not their responsibility" This has to be illegal under the hyp. oath. ! You are a doctor who is suppose to be helping "kids", the most innocent of people, and you say you are not responsible! That is ridiculus. I am a teacher and I am liable for all types of things outside my job description but it is covered under these types of laws that I will ALWAYS have the child's best interest cared for at all times. How can I be sued but not a doctor who makes a whole lot more than I do? Do not tell me it is because of high insurance costs and business. Teachers do not have much money for such claims. Do not tell me they are more educated either because I went to and work with many teachers who went to graduate school and have many degrees. THERE IS NO EXCUSE! If you want to operate like a business, be in some other type of business. You chose a career to help people and you took an oath! Keep to it. That is just being a human-being.

Cola,SC MOM

 
 

Answer 7/56 - Submitted 9/14/2009

I agree. I am a legal student and all the research I have found says that if taken into a courtroom, most judges do not care about balances and usually never hear this portion because it is irrelevant. The law states that a person cannot be refusedmedical care simply because they lack insurance or cannot pay a bill.

 
 

Answer 8/56 - Submitted 9/14/2009

Report him to the AMA and they will deal with him acordingly.its a matter of ethics not so much legallity.there's enuogh good dr's out there to make up for ones like this one

 
 

Answer 9/56 - Submitted 9/14/2009

Oh My Goodness...Number one, any physician who cares about his or her patients is not going to simply refuse them service.....In this day and age, some of the laws have changed in regards to contracts....When a patient fills out forms on their first visit, they need to pay special attention to what they are signing...However, in this particular situation, he already excepted you under his service..He is now legally bound to care for you, unless as stated above, you receive a letter of intent to discontinue services....I have seen far to many cases in the ER,where we will call a physician(specialist), usually an ortho or neuro specialist, and explain the patients condition and will be told that they will see them the following day (if it is non-emergent), then the patient will get a call from their office and asked questions regarding their insurance. If they have no insurance, then that physician will refuse to take the case..Even though, he has stated to that he would...Then we get a call from the patient wanting to know what to do....The sad thing is that this is often times the case...Getting a surgeon or specialist of any kind without insurance is near impossible...This is part of the Medical Profession that is broken...And I fear, it will only get worse...Try to find yourself another physician..If this physician is more interested in your ability to pay, than to get you better(which saves money in the long run), then you don't need them....I wish you the best..Good Luck and God Bless.

 
 

Answer 10/56 - Submitted 9/17/2009

Not to defend callousness, but doctors in their offices are actually running a business with expenses that do not go away. If they were to treat everyone for free they would soon go out of business. Balance that against your request for a telephone prescription you want, which may or may not be the correct thing to do. You have the right to obtain medical care but you have the obligation to pay for what you received. Your doctor may do charity work someplace other than in his office. You may be discharged from the service if you are sent a registered letter stating that.

Good Samaritan laws only protect people from being liable for volunteer work they perform to save someone's life. They are fairly weak, and one EMS provider was successfully sued recently for removing someone from a car when it was believed the car was about to burn and explode. Unfortunately the driver sustained neck damage and sued and won. Good Samaritan laws do not say anything about requiring a passerby to help anyone.

 
 

Answer 11/56 - Submitted 9/18/2009

Many of our Physicians have joined with group physician providers and also contract with certain Hospitals....The billing then is not just for the one physician, but for the group or other entity that they are contracted with....Just like the ER..Patients think that it is the physicians that charge them..We are contracted through a Physicians Network , not even the hospital..That is a contract between the Hospital and our Association of the Physicians Network....Our salary comes directly from the Physicians network....Things have changed over the years where most hospitals want all the physicians to sign contracts as EMPLOYEE"S of the hospital...I for one would never due this..This is why individuals who go to the ER receive two seperate statements of services..You will receive one for what ever the hospital charges you for supplies and another from the ER Physicians Services..Two totally different Networks....I have two Colleques who are currently being pressured by a hospital to sign contracts in order to stay on staff...This is outragious! These are independent physicians..However, this is what is facing the future of our Medical Professionals...When I first started out in this 30+ years ago, we didn't even think about this sort of non-sense..And, it worked pretty darn good...I just hope that it is not to late to turn this around so we can do what we set out to do ..Deliver the best care possible...I agree that this is now a business, however, I fear much of the passion for Medicine and caring for patients is slowing down..We are seeing this in our Medical Schools where enrollment is down..Our young men and woman are choosing other fields of practice in medicine instead of direct patient care.....Just my thought on things..God Bless All.

 
 

Answer 12/56 - Submitted 10/28/2009

Well I have a question...

I went to the doctor today and he was asking me and about my problems, then he asked me what I was looking to get done today, I said treatment for my back. He asked if I was getting prescriptions to fill today and I said I don't know, whatever you give me. He then asked me what I use to take for my back problems, I said Oxycodone. He said leave my office now, I asked if he was refusing to treat me and he said yes.
After this occurred, we walked into the check out area and I had just asked him if he was refusing my service and he said I was trying to force him to write me a script for oxycodone. It's all bullshit. This doctor I've heard is a quack but with medicaid I don't have much choice. its lame.
What route should I take? I figured I'd file a complaint against him on a medical board and then speak to a lawyer maybe. This is not the first time he has done something like this to me.
Just looking for information. He is a nonamerican doctor but I'm not against anyone but my god, i did NOTHING wrong. I have 7 degenerative disc's and no one to help me. bleh.

 
 

Answer 13/56 - Submitted 10/29/2009

HellosSkepsisxx...I am sorry for your expirience....The reality is that many physicians, who have patients ask for a Narcotic in this day and age, automatically assume they are "drug seekers"...And I am also sorry to say that he is well within his rights to do so...However, he should have spent more time talking to you about your physical problems...Just because you told him Oxcycodone, that does not mean he had to prescribe that particular medication if he had a problem with it.. He could have given you an Antiinflammatory or referred you for Epidural....This has been a problem for a long time..However, this goes back to the ole saying "one apple can spoil the whole bunch"..We deal with individuals in the ER that have gone to two or three other hospitals prior to ours just to get certain drugs..When they do not get that drug , or we prescibe another drug, they become beligerant and leave...They don't really want our help, just the medication they are use to taking..These are the individuals that make physicians leary of prescribing narcotics...There is sooooo much abuse...This seems to put many people in the same category...One example that I can give you is as follows: I had a 77yr old female who came to the ER with severe back , groin and hip pain..She was crying and informed me that she didn't have a regular physician, and that she had gone to a clinic that only charged based on what she could pay..When she asked for something for the pain, she stated, "they made me feel like a terrorist"....This is non-sense...We do have many individuals who are drug-seekers, however, we can not assume that all individuals fit that category...This lady was given pain medication and was most grateful...She was also given an injection and we kept her for awhile as she had no one with her.....I could tell she was not just seeking drugs..A physician can usually tell which individuals are truly in need, and those that are simply seekers..I would advise you to see another physician, however, if I were you, I would not tell the physician what to prescribe...We have control over how much we can order....And then the patient must return for re-evaluation...I hope this was abit helpful...Good Luck to you and God Bless...

 
 

Answer 14/56 - Submitted 3/7/2010

Yes. You can be lawfully discharged from a doctor's practice for non-payment. This is customarily done in writing and not uncommonly sent by certified mail, but is not required to be transmitted that way. You may be dismissed verbally as well. In most states, to avoid any counter-charge of patient abandonment, you may be given a limited period over which the discharging doctor may cover any emergencies you may have (but not necessarily including office visits or other services like prescription refills or completion of non-medical paperwork). That time period, depending on local practices might be two weeks or a month, but under certain circumstances, for instance if a patient threatens staff or doctors, the patient can be summarily discharged.

Private offices are not the same as hospital emergency departments. If you have an unpaid balance, you can be required to pay the balance in full before you receive any additional services. That is allowed. When you are accepted into a doctor's practice, you are commonly signing agreements to be ultimately responsible for satisfying the charges in your bill, whether your insurer covers you or not. There are additional notices of payment liabilities that have to be given to Medicare patients, but personal responsibility for payment is the rule.

As to the Hippocratic Oath, first, it is a custom and not a law, and so is not binding. Second, the oath says nothing about having to treat anyone for anything. "Do no harm" as an extracted aphorism from the oath means you are not supposed to do anything as a treatment that does not offer what would be a reasonable chance at making the patient better. It does not mean that if a treatment fails or if a patient suffers a harmful side effect of treatment that the ethic of the oath is violated. The intent of the treatment should to the benefit of the patient. That understood, it does not follow that anyone has a right to command treatment from a doctor without satisfying payment obligations simply because they would not do as well as they would without treatment. A patient's perceived "need" does not give them a right to take without payment (even under EMTALA), making their caregiver effectively an unpaid servant, a slave.

 
 

Answer 15/56 - Submitted 3/26/2010

They should and it's a business. No one is questioning insurance companies about their fees. If anything, they should be held liable and NOT the doctors.
Too many freebies out there.

"oh I can't afford to pay my copay, but I can afford a pack of cigarettes."

 
 

Answer 16/56 - Submitted 3/26/2010

It's very simple: PAY what you owe

you can't go into McDonalds asking them for a free burger...you have to pay first. So if you're starving and they don't give you a free burger are yougoing to sue them?

being a doctor doesn't equal giving free service. If you want free service, go to a developing country and wait there until a doctor visits that country for mission work

 
 

Answer 17/56 - Submitted 3/26/2010

The world is in trouble, when I hear things like this it makes me sick to my stomach, and the way the world is today I get sick alot. look how greedy people are and some of them have the nerve to justify why it's ok to be money hungry, this is just proof that evil controls most of the world, we are all sheeple waiting for the slaughter, instead of getting better it's getting worse and most people just bend over now and take it without a fight they believe that nothing they do or anyone does will change it, but they are wrong.

 
 

Answer 18/56 - Submitted 6/9/2010

Okulus, I am going through a simular situation. The medication the doctor is refusing to refill is an antihypertensive that if stopped abruptly causes rebound hypertension, tachycardia, angina, and other nasty things that can send my husband's heart into ventricular tachycardia. Is the doctor "doing no harm"? BTW for just an office visit this doctor charges $165.00 and he is not a specialist. I am a responsible citizen who works very hard for my family and it is wrong for anyone to sit and cast judgement upon me until they have walked in my shoes.

 
 

Answer 19/56 - Submitted 7/20/2010

Legally yes, but morally they should not. Doctors take an oath to treat patients anytime without conditions.

 
 

Answer 20/56 - Submitted 7/23/2010

Yes sometimes they deny if they are supporting some private firms. If they are government bodies than they can not deny treatment.

Basically if they are private body then they are more interested in making money rather than helping the people out.

 
 

Answer 21/56 - Submitted 9/7/2010

No. Doctors are bound by the oath that they shall look into all patients, so they cannot refuse treatment.

 
 

Answer 22/56 - Submitted 9/7/2010

Mirror, what oath is that? It is not the Hippocratic Oath, that's for sure.

 
 

Answer 23/56 - Submitted 9/7/2010

In some cases a doctor can refuse medical care because you have not paid your expenses. I suggest you try and figure out a way to pay back your debts to your physician so that next time you need them they will not refuse you

 
 

Answer 24/56 - Submitted 9/19/2010

Yes. Your private doctor is in business and if everyone didn't pay, he/she would be out of business. Unfortunately, they have bills to pay too and can't operate without charging their customers - patients. As others have suggested - it would be best if you could work out a payment plan with the doctor. Perhaps after getting the bill down a bit more, your doctor will compromise a bit. Good luck.

 
 

Answer 25/56 - Submitted 9/24/2010

What you all are not understanding is that the doctor has to pay his bills too. he has a staff to pay, water bill, rent, electric, malpractice insurance etc....... if he gives away his services just becuse you do not think you should have to pay your bill then that puts the doctor in a bad place. he may have to let staff go or worse close his practice!
you have no idea how little the doctors are reimbursed by the insurance companies!
it is a crime that the insureds have to pay so much and that the doctors are reimbursed so little. so, yes, we have to make sure we receive the patient protions for services rendered.

 
 

Answer 26/56 - Submitted 9/24/2010

In our office the balances that stack up most are from patients who do not want to pay their copays or their deductibles. this is your responsibility, when you signed up with your insurance company and sign on the dotted line you agreed to pay your part.
the doctor can lose their contract with the insurance companies if they do not collect your portions.

 
 

Answer 27/56 - Submitted 10/7/2010

My doctor today refused a written prescription that her office advised was waiting for me at the front desk due to an unpaid bill. I understand it is my debt, but I was not expecting that getting a written prescription would be held over my head for full payment of 200.00. Ill pay the bill, and seek services elsewhere.

 
 

Answer 28/56 - Submitted 10/9/2010

I think that is legally possible.

But as a doctor, you should not stop treating just because he owes you money. It is a duty to treat all patients. That is morally correct.

The final decision is to be left on the morals of the doctor.

 
 

Answer 29/56 - Submitted 10/11/2010

We now live in a Society that has greatly changed the mind set of some physicians. We see more and more group Physicians than we do private practice physician. The physicians that are associated with Groups, do not set the pricing, nor do they have anything to do with the billing of their services. Once they join a "Group" they wave their right to be a participant in the business end of it. They are told when they sign up in a Physician Group, how it works. They choose to sign a contract with that group. A private practice physician, although many do have agencies that take care of the business end of things, still retain the right to NOT charge you for an office visit, or , to make their own decision about their practice. This does create a problem with physicians who care about their patients, once they have signed on with a group. It is for this reason that many patients lose their physicians if they are unable to pay. It is not your physician who turns you away necessarily, it is the billing department. Then, their are some, who will step forward and tell you, I will take care of things, just get back in here to see me! That is a "Good Physician". However, you will find that they are far and few between. An individual has the right to choose a physician who will work with them if they are uninsured, or simply haven't the fund's to pay! Some have financial assistance programs designed to help those who do not have the funds for their medical care. Specialist that you may be referred to, do have the right to deny seeing you based on your ability to pay. This is an ever growing problem in today's society, and one that drives many individuals to the emergency rooms, with non-emergent illnesses. At this point in time, I see know real resolution to this problem other than for a patient to try a find a private MD who is not associated with large group. They are out there, but one must seek them out! I find this very sad that we have become a society where an individual with medical problems, can not get the care needed. And, it is my prayer that this situation will change. I hope this does help abit. It certainly does not solve the problem, but rather put's it in perspective. God Bless and I pray that their will soon be a day when we get back to where we use to be and not have other entities dictate how to run a medical profession! Politics has NO PLACE in MEDICINE!

 
 

Answer 30/56 - Submitted 10/13/2010

I think yes. If you owe him money, he can refuse the treatment. But not all doctors are the same.

 
 

Answer 31/56 - Submitted 10/13/2010

Go see a different doctor. Doctors are greedy.

 
 

Answer 32/56 - Submitted 11/18/2010

Technically a doctor can refuse treatment if you owe them money, but it depends on the circumstances. If you are in an emergency and could die, then he could be held responsible if just stood by and watched you die.

If you are going to a doctor because you have a cold and you owe money then he has the right to refuse treatment.

 
 

Answer 33/56 - Submitted 3/23/2011

I am an employee of a very well known medical facility and I have been called by my doctors' offices, ( i have specialist for my Lupus and diabetes) informing me that my employer will not allow me to make any further appointments or receive any care until my balance is paid! How is this legal?! I have co-pays! I have to make those payments or I cannot be seen anyways...so how can I really owe that much?! I have contacted the financial counselor and left messages but have not received any answers. I need to see a doctor soon due to my glucose readings being above 350 the last week! what do I do?!

 
 

Answer 34/56 - Submitted 9/20/2011

I agree that doctors take a oath to treat patients. I just recently had a doctors office refuse to give my husband an appointment because we owe them $107 on a procedure that they charged $1800 for and which my insurance paid $1700. They have no idea what our financial situation is! If doctors want to be treated like all other service providers, then we should have the right to ask what they charge per hour and get references from their other patients before we decide we'd like to book an appointment with them. I plan on requesting our medical recordsbe released from this doctor and find a doctor that isnt in it for the bucks! This is just one of the many things that's wrong with our health care system. I'm sure if I were a welfare patient or on medicare this wouldn't even be an issue.

So they aren't throwing away 1 patient with healthcare insurance but 2 as I go to this physician as well. To me this doesn't make good business sense - refuse a $200/hr appointment with possibilities of further insurance payments over a $107?

Conversely there are other doctors out there that do provide their specialized services for those in financial distress. I have a relative that has been laid off from work for almost a year, is over 55 years old, has been refused social security disability because she cant see clearly any more because of severe issues with her eyes due to diabetes. This wonderful doctor agreed to continue to treat her - at no charge - for laser surgery to stop the "bleeders" in her eyes and even went so far as to bring in another doctor to give her shots in her eyes since they could no longer do the laser surgery. Now those are not inexpensive procedures.

 
 

Answer 35/56 - Submitted 9/27/2011

My husband and I agree that we do owe the co pay,just that he is on disability and I was out of work this summer, He had a stroke this summer, DDD and possible prostate cancer. I have MS, Crohn's disease and had thyroid cancer.Our meds have copays of $40. EACH, I'm on 14 meds a day, my husband 12. We had a check, just didn't have the chance to cash it. Hubby went to spine doc, I TOLD them I would be right back with the money(I couldn't go by myself I don't drive). Docs office said you don't have the co pay in hand...we won't see you. Turned us away. We pay copays before next visit.....and BTW we wouldn't go to the store get groceries and ask to pay them later... we have gone hungry

 
 

Answer 36/56 - Submitted 9/27/2011

The office staff of the spine doc made that comment that "you wouldn't go to the store and buy food and tell them you would pay them later?" No we go hungry at times

 
 

Answer 37/56 - Submitted 2/10/2012

Doctors refusing to treat patients that owe them money are not being greedy, necessarily. I work for a doctor, who is also my mother. We are a small private practice with no hospital affiliation, self owned single doctor practice. She is a psychiatrist, and many of her patients NEED their medications in order to stay stable. We do not take insurance, because it is very difficult to get the money the insurance companies owe us, and even when we do, of the $125 we charge them for a normal office visit, they may pay $25-$40 AT THE MOST. It is ridiculous.
My mother is a very compassionate person. When people come to her with their sad stories about why they can't pay, she understands, and, used to be, she'd tell them alright, you can bring it later. Now, we have her tell the patients that she does not handle the finances, and to come talk to me. We do this because our business is practically failing now. The total of all past due balances owed by patients is over $40,000 over a period of less than ten years.
It is totally legal to refuse to see a patient if they do not pay. In fact, nowadays it is very common practice that your appointment must be paid in full before you are seen, or it will be rescheduled.
We posted signs in July that all balances must be paid in full by 12/31/11, or the patient will not have any appointments or receive any medication until the balance is paid. We set up payment contracts dividing the amount owed by six, six monthly payments. Most patients somehow came up with the money and had their balances paid off by that date. Now, we did make a few exceptions for certain patients we knew absolutely could not pay it off in that short a time, or at all, but most of the people who were not paid up, or not even trying, were released from the practice on the first of the year.
Now, it is not very fair that the doctor refused to treat you when you did try to pay, However, that is the doctor's choice and he is within legal borders to do so.

 
 

Answer 38/56 - Submitted 2/11/2012

All I can say is if you didn't get paid by your boss, would you keep working for them? Doctors are running a business and if people don't pay, they are not going to keep giving out a free service. If everyone did this, then there just wouldn't be medical facilities, as they would all go bankrupt. While small payments may be overlooked, if you have left this debt a while, I can see why they may refuse to treat you until you pay. If you don't have the money, maybe you should see what support is available for you.

 
 

Answer 39/56 - Submitted 3/27/2012

Can they...YES and they will... and thoes of you who have not been or even lived in the town that I live in the hospital here will refuse to see you...if you owe money and or can not pay up front they will send you packin....the Doctors here are awefull i travle up to 50 to evev 70 miles to be see some were eles even for e.r. visits i have a family member who has been told by a dr. here that she has cancer in her female orgians this same female obgyn that told her this has also told her she would not treat her for this cause she has no way to pay...and when she went to see the e.r. doctor about this problem and the pain she was under going they refused to see her as soon as they found out she had cancer....now she just waits in pain to start receving s.s.i this will be a long and painful wait due to the reason she cant pay up front all because this hospital here is a locally owed hospital and its what he says goes the dr's here sing a 20year contract to do only what this hospitals rules allow they and if they try to get out of it or break the contract a large price will have to be paid....and the sad part about this is she is not the only one that is surrfing she has 2 small children that are getting the worse of it...what is the U.S. coming to these days when the oath is not a oath they take any more

 
 

Answer 40/56 - Submitted 3/27/2012

Yes they can. Unless it is a life or death emergency, doctors can refuse you too. They own a lot of money from medical school and they also have bills to pay. Hospital/clinic are business too.

 
 

Answer 41/56 - Submitted 3/27/2012

Healthcare is not a constitutional right. There is a huge argument going on right now over the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) about whether the government can make it a right by forcing everyone to have health insurance which will be payed for by you. Even then there will be co-pays. This means that in the United States of America you have to pay for your healthcare. Of course there are all sorts of help for the poor and elderly: Medicaid, Medicare, charity, and there is EMTALA which mandates emergency care in ERs without questions about ability to pay or insurance.

Whether one believes healthcare should be a government run program or a strictly private program, it is clear that getting treatment costs money, and if you don't pay for it, someone else will have to pick up the tab. You cannot expect an individual doctor to give free health care unless you are going to a charity clinic, or the doctor is a philanthropist and doesn't want or need money to live on.

 
 

Answer 42/56 - Submitted 3/28/2012

Doctors have no obligation to accept or retain any patient. They can 'fire' you at any time. In my state, at least, doctors are required to advise you in writing and provide 30 days care while you find a new physician.

I don't think it's generally the doctor who decides who is refused medical care because of delinquent bills. Doctors hire accountants and they hire office managers. Those are the people who deal with the specific decisions. I know my doctor would never refuse to see me because I owed a bill but the office manager would cancel me without a second thought.

That being said, doctors deserve to earn a substantial living. They devoted a lot of time and energy learning their trade. Most people could not cope with the grueling schedules of medical students, interns and residents. It takes a special person to become a doctor.

After doctors have completed all their schooling, they are faced with their two biggest expenses: student loans and malpractice insurance. I know one young doctor who gave up private practice because after the cost of malpractice insurance, student loans and employees, she earned less than her receptionist. And that's not counting monthly expenses like office space.

As for doctors who refuse treatment to new patients who request prescription narcotics, you need to understand doctor's prescription writing habits are under intense scrutiny by the DEA (drug enforcement agency). No doctor wants to risk his/her license for writing an inordinate number of prescriptions for narcotics.

Many states also utilize an online prescription monitoring service that provides information to doctors and pharmacists. If a doctor looks online and sees you have been 'red flagged' for doctor shopping or procuring excessive amounts of narcotics, you are going to be refused treatment.

 
 

Answer 43/56 - Submitted 5/3/2012

I need a answer to my problem I have an electronic device in my back that has to be monitored by a doctor as needed or every six months I tried to get in to see the doctor but I was refused because I owe money and I'm not working right now.Wait it gets better I owe the money because I was sent to a surgery center that did not accept the insurance I had at the time.This was a mistake on the billing departments behalf I president them with what I had and they took it.So now they want me to eat the bill and until it's paid I can't get seen and I am up under care for the rest of my life what do I do please someone help me or tell me what I should do? Thank you so much

 
 

Answer 44/56 - Submitted 5/3/2012

Db35. if you want answers to your question you need to post it separately so it will be seen by the entire community. Go to the top of this page, click on ask and post your own question.

 
 

Answer 45/56 - Submitted 5/23/2012

The doctor can refuse to provide service for you, unless you are in a critical stage. Since the doctor has stated clearly his intention to discontinue service to you, you have to find another doctor or just pay your bill.

 
 

Answer 46/56 - Submitted 5/27/2012

I am an older person and remember all too well when a doctor came to your home. they treated you and thier pay was five dollars. they did not push pills so much yet searched for an answer to your illness that would not cause you harm or side effects from the pills pushed today.
who dose not owe a doctor or hospital bill today, no one. yes a doctor today can and will refuse you help. that is a very sad thing to say. so many millions do without help when ill because now being a doctor is a money makeing bussness and no longer a calling that men and women come too. i like it better when doctors were your friend and you looked up to them as special beings who really cared about you.......

 
 

Answer 47/56 - Submitted 5/27/2012

Yes, this is legal, however, if you go to the ER, they cannot refuse treatment because you owe them money, ER will not go to the ends of the earth trying to figure out what is wrong with you. If you have a bill at that hospital, and you present with something that they can get away with prescribing you some medication and sending you on your way, they will. And unfortunately most of the time, they can get away with this even it later it turns out to be something deadly because it is very difficult and costly to legally prove that the doctor did this intentionally.

 
 

Answer 48/56 - Submitted 5/27/2012

Vikkidvs, you are misinformed. The doctors and nurses in the emergency room don't have a clue if a patient has an old unpaid bill and they don't care.

 
 

Answer 49/56 - Submitted 8/1/2012

Our practice is a Family Practice that is independently owned. Our Business Office gives EVERY opportunity for a patient to make arrangements to pay on the account or make some sort of payment arrangements. We call our patients and send multiple statements and letters to our patients and inform our patients that if the debt is not collected that we will no longer be their physician. Our accounts are only transferred to collections and our patients are only discharged ONLY if every attempt to collect the debt has not been met. It is RARE now a days to have an independent office and not be owned by a hospital or other organization. Its tough to maintain a business in the Medical Field anymore. Patients should also understand that we are indeed a business and have to pay our bills just like any other business. We request payment to be made for our services just like any other business. Where is Medical Offices considered to be unethical to collect for services performed? Medical Facilities are the only facilities that have to bill an insurance company first for services already performed on a patient. You dont go to Walmart for groceries, get your groceries and then wait to see if an insurance company will pay for them, and then get billed later.....So...tell me why our office would be considered unethical to deny a patient services due to them having a balance that hasnt been paid? Of course, if the patient was in our office with an emergency...that is a total different situation.

 
 

Answer 50/56 - Submitted 12/15/2012

I have been going to a pain doctor since January of 2012. I had insurance at first then it canceled 4 months ago. I then became a "cash patient ". I paid 1000.00 dollars in August to catch up past balances. I also have made payments to be able to be seen cause the financial ladie blocked me from any appointments until my 400.00 balance was under 100.00. I have 5 kids and my prescriptions cost me over 1000.00 a month due to my 4 months of no insurance. Apparently I have to ba able to afford the scripts and the doctors at the same time! With 5 kids and lots of bills it has not been possible! That is why i have a 400.00 balance in the first place! When talking to the financial ladie telling her that I now have insurance as of the 1st of December. " because after making three payments in a 3 week period she is still blocking me!" She started to ask me if my insurance would cover a pre exsisting condition? I told her what would that have to do with billing? And how would she even know what I'm being seen for? She said " you are being seen at a pain doctor". She them requested that I Pay more than my copayment in case the insurance does not cover my next visit. She also said that my payment plan of 100 towards my back balance would not be enough. She will check with the doctor. In the mean time she was very rude to me and hung up! Now I think she will be requesting him to drop me as a patient , even though I have never seen him! I've been seeing his nurse practiconer ever since January 2012. I am worried what to do cause my pain meds are high doses that I just can't stop! It will cause all kinds of withdrawals and possibly put me in the hospital ! What do I do ? Can they do this to me? Is there a way to help my situation?

 
 

Answer 51/56 - Submitted 12/15/2012

Crazymom, please post your question separately or you will not receive answers. Go to the top of the page and click on Ask then compose your question.

 
 

Answer 52/56 - Submitted 4/29/2013

That is soooooooooooooooooooo wrong! my mom has arthitis through out her body, is on dialysy 3X's a week, in a wheel chair because she has no cartledge in her knees, high blood pressure, diabetic, depression, she has medicare, medical, and private insurance and primary doctor refused her service today becuase she owes them money.. NEVER got a bill.. when i called to make her appointment and they said no becuase she owes them money. i told them that my mom is dizzy, has a major headache, and her left arm is hurting.. they said we cant see her until she pays her bill in FULL!.................................. She has all the medical insurances.. shes never has a co-payment!

 
 

Answer 53/56 - Submitted 5/4/2013

I thought there was a code of ethics. I would think that the code of ethic clearly state that the doctor cannot refuse a patient care due to nonpayment or financial circumstances

 
 

Answer 54/56 - Submitted 5/4/2013

There is a difference, in what is legal, and what is right, or wrong. If it is legal for a doctor to turn a patient away, because of money they owe the doctor, then there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.
If you are really concerned about any law though, you can go about trying to change the law, by pressuring those who have the ability and power to change it..... politicians.
In your state, you can contact those who represent you in the state legislature, and in the national level, you can contact your congressperson, or your senator.
Begin legality aside, doctors take an oath. It is called the hippocratic oath. If you read the oath in its entirety, I think you could make an argument that turning a patient away for any reason, might be considered "wrong".

 
 

Answer 55/56 - Submitted 6/13/2013

I stumbled upon this Question and the responses because my nephew who is an unemployeed college student who also lives with me because he can't live with his parents. His Mom is very poor and she lives with someone else so he can't live there, and his Dad lives in another state with his new wife and step daughter (who is also an unemployed college student), and won't let his son live with them. Well, he has some severe kidney problems, he always has. This is a lot of the reason he is unemployed, he has been terminated from several jobs because of missing too much work due to chronic kidney stones and infections. He does not have medical insurance because he cannot afford it and I cannot pay $300 per month for him to have it. A couple of nights ago, I had to take him to the hospital ER, and was there until 3am. They gave him something for pain and an anti inflammatory, referred him to a local urologist (specialist), and released him. We called the local urologist, who mind you, is in the ONLY urologist group in the area, and was told that he owes $1,500 and until he pays it, they will not treat him. Yes, I agree that if you owe money you should be paying it, at least something whenever you're able to. He hasn't done so because he does not have any income and I support him as much as possible. But now he cannot get any treatment for a couple of kidney stones that are too large to pass. One in his kidney, and one stuck between the kidney and bladder; no one will treat him. No other Urologist will take him without a referral, the hospital won't refer anyone else because they say they can only refer doctors from the hospital. There are 3 urologists here, but they are all in the same practice and refuse to treat him. I don't have $1,500 to pay so that he may be treated. I agreed to pay for this visit and treatment which could be as high as $2,000. I just can't believe they can legally do this when he almost died from this 5 years ago. Back then, the hospital actually treated him and he ended up in ICU for 2 weeks because they waited too long to treat him. Well, because he still owes on that $130,000 bill, the hospital WILL NOT TREAT HIM for kidney stones, they said he has to go see a specialist in urology. They said until it's "life threatening" they cannot do anything for him. I just don't get it... He is about to have to quit college because he is in so much pain he can hardly get out of bed or even walk. School has become almost impossible for him. Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated please! Thanks in advance!

 
 

Answer 56/56 - Submitted 10/17/2014 6:11 PM

I didn't owe my doctor but my husband did and I didn't know it what can I do to get my doctor back

 
 
 
 
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