Can a doctor refuse to treat a patient without insurance?
There are many reasons why someone might not have medical insurance. Perhaps they can’t afford to pay for it or they’re in-between jobs and waiting for their new health coverage to take effect. Unfortunately, accidents are never convenient, and they can happen when someone doesn’t have insurance to pay for treatment. As a result, they may wonder if a doctor can refuse to treat them because they don’t have insurance coverage.
There’s not a simple answer to this question. Doctors have the legal right to turn down patients, but it’s not always simple to explain why they have this right when medical necessity is in question. Each state has specific laws regarding medical treatment and the refusal of a doctor to see a patient. It’s difficult to discuss the legalities without knowing specifics regarding your case.
- If a doctor or medical facility turned you away as a patient because you don’t have health insurance, call a medical malpractice lawyer Miami FL relies on to discuss your legal options.
- If your medical condition seriously worsened because you were refused emergency treatment, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. A personal injury attorney can review your case and offer an opinion as to whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Right to Refuse
Doctors have the right to refuse medical care for many reasons. The most common reasons include the following:
- Patients are seeking narcotics because they are addicted to that drug
- There is no illness present
- A patient is destructive or dangerous
- The doctor’s office has no openings and is no longer accepting new patients for basic care. (This applies in a non-emergency situation.)
Sometimes, patients aren’t actually denied medical treatment but they are forced to wait long hours to receive care. This occurs most often in an emergency room, and it causes many patients to get up and leave. These patients feel they are denied treatment when they’re actually waiting for a doctor to have time to see them.
- Emergency rooms and doctors are legally required to see emergency cases before anyone else.
- If you walk into an emergency room with a broken finger and someone else walks in five minute after you with chest pains or a head wound, that person is always a priority.
- Serious injuries always come before lesser injuries, and this sometimes means other patients wait long periods of time to see a doctor.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act
This is a federal law that requires all doctors and medical facilities to see a patient who is suffering from a medical emergency or is in active labor even if the patient has no ability to pay the anticipated bill. A good example might be a homeless woman or transient who comes into an emergency room in labor or with life threatening injuries. Without a job or even a home they have no ability to pay, but the doctor is required by law to see them.
While a doctor has every right to deny treatment for various reasons, they can’t refuse to treat a person with life-threatening or serious injuries even if they don’t have health insurance or the ability to pay.
Call a personal injury attorney if you have concerns about medical care that was denied to you. An important part of a lawyer’s job is to help determine whether medical care was legally denied or if there was a gross negligence. Contact a law firm without delay to determine if your legal rights were violated.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Needle & Ellenberg, P.C. for their insight into medical malpractice practice.