When Patients Don't Pay Their Bills

April 24, 2017

Some patients just assume physicians are rich and they don't need the money. Thus, they skip out on paying their bills.

I am not a doormat.

Patients assume that all doctors are rich. In their minds, rich people do not need more money. Therefore, there is no real reason to get concerned about the unpaid bills physicians have at your office. Never mind the debt you have for your education or the years it takes to build a practice. In some patients' minds, you are rich and you don't need their money.

I have a few simple rules in the office. Patients who make a good faith effort will be treated regardless of the office balance. I have one elderly gentleman with severe problems that generally result in him being hospitalized several times a year. He has little or no income, yet every month he sends a few dollars due from his bill.

The bill will never be paid off in my lifetime, but I value him as a patient and he is never turned away from this practice because he cannot pay for my services. I have another patient severely injured at work for which I provided a lot of medical care. He was in recently and told me his case settled for over $300,000, but he was not going to pay me as the injury occurred at work. Since it was not his fault, why should he pay the bill, although the settlement stated that my bill was included in the money he received, paid by him.

I sent that one to the office attorney to deal with the problem. I wonder if he considered who is going to fill out his disability papers in the future, since employed physicians do not provide services like that to patients. I feel badly if I have to send a patient to collection, but I still have to cover the overhead at the office.

If you go to collection, I will see you once you pay your bill, but in the future no credit is given if you do not have your copay with you. I understand that sometimes it is necessary for people to go bankrupt. Some patients I do not treat in the future, because if I am not worth a minimal payment of at least $10 a month on the bill, I am not worth keeping as the family doctor.

One of the patients went bankrupt here who had an outstanding balance of $2.00 with the office. It costs more to send me the paperwork than it would have to pay the $2.00.

People amaze me sometime.