(305) 363-1735

Can a Doctor Refuse to Treat a Patient Without Insurance?

Healthcare is always a hot topic and many people often question if a doctor can refuse a patient who does not have insurance. The answer to this question is tricky because state and federal laws vary on this issue, and there are some instances when a patient can be denied emergency medical care. Private doctors also have the right to deny treatment at https://xn--smln-coab.com/.

On the other hand, the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is a law that requires that all patients who have an emergency medical condition must be treated in a hospital until their condition is medically stabilized, regardless if that person has insurance or not.  However, the law defines what an emergency medical condition is and how far a doctor or medical staff must go to “stabilize” the patient.

Individuals also have rights when the hospital tried to kick you out prematurely. If patients are advised to vacate their hospital room because of a standardized “appropriate length of stay”, they have the right to appeal that discharge if they believe that they are not well enough to leave. Patients who feel the hospital is discharging them too early should consult both their doctors and a hospital patient representative for information on filing an appeal. However, if the patient loses, the hospital will likely charge for the excess hospital stay.

If you work in the healthcare industry, it is a good idea to consult a medical malpractice lawyer Baltimore, MD patients turn to, who can provide you with the right advice when it comes to refusing to treat a patient without insurance.

Denial of Care

There are some instances when a doctor can refuse treatment, but it has nothing to do with insurance. Some examples include:

  •      The doctor does not practice the type of medicine involved in the patient’s complaint
  •      When a patient displays dangerous or destructive behavior
  •      A patient displays behavior that is typical of someone seeking drugs or has been identified as having a drug problem
  •      The patient is delusional and complains of an illness when there is none

If a patient has insurance and does not fall into one of the above circumstances, that person must be seen by an emergency room doctor.

Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act

All patients in the U.S. are protected under the EMTALA. Both hospitals and individual doctors can be held liable under EMTALA for refusing a patient who requires immediate emergency care but does not have insurance. Stiff fines in excess of $50,000 and disciplinary action for refusal of treatment to uninsured patients ensures that most hospitals and doctors have a 100% treatment rate for emergencies — even when it comes to patients who do not have the ability to pay. Although the treatment of uninsured patients is a big financial drain on the healthcare system, this law specifically forbids doctors from denying emergency treatment to uninsured patients.

Private Doctors Can Deny

With few exceptions, private doctors are totally within their rights to deny treatment of a patient when they are not subject to the EMTALA and its provisions. With the exception of discrimination, a private doctor can deny treatment of a patient at any time for just about any reason without fear of any legal reprisal. Because doctors in private practice are considered the same as a small business owner. A doctor can refuse treatment for any of the following reasons:

  •      The patient cannot pay for treatment costs
  •      The doctor is busy and unable to accept new patients
  •      The doctor chooses not to treat patients with specific injuries or illnesses
  •      The doctor is not affiliated with the patient health insurance company

A private doctor can also refuse to continue treating the patient for the following reasons:

  •      The patient has not paid his or her bill
  •      The patient is disruptive
  •      The patient showed drug-seeking behavior
  •      Reasons of conscience such as deciding not to give a prescription of narcotics for pain management; also contraceptive, religious, or palliative care beliefs

Medical malpractice cases are complex and sometimes it can take several years to resolve them. It is a good idea to seek the help of a medical malpractice lawyer and provide you the right advice and counsel in the event of a lawsuit. If you have been denied emergency care by a doctor or healthcare provider, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Greenberg Law Offices for their insight into medical malpractice.