Patients Falling Behind on Medical Bills Leads to Denied Care

By Consumers for Quality Care, on July 13, 2022

Patients Falling Behind on Medical Bills Leads to Denied Care

An Arizona family was denied medical care from their primary care physician because of past due bills, according to Kaiser Health News.

Ariane, a husband, father of three, and cancer survivor, knows the importance of staying on top of his health care, even if medical bills end up being costly. In 2016, he fell ill and tried to make an appointment to see his primary care doctor. The office turned him away, according to Ariane’s wife, Samantha.

“They said they wouldn’t see him because of past due bills,” Samantha said, estimating they owed a few hundred dollars.

Ariane was forced to visit a hospital emergency room, which is required to provide emergency medical care for any patient. However, this visit, which led to a diagnosis of a serious intestinal infection that required intravenous fluids and antibiotics, cost Ariane and his family thousands of dollars on top of the outstanding medical bills they already had.

While hospitals must accept all patients, medical providers can reject patients for nonurgent care if they have past-due bills. A poll conducted by KFF found that 1 in 7 Americans have been denied care due to outstanding medical debt. As a result, many Americans are rationing their care. Around two-thirds of U.S. adults with past-due medical bills say they or a member of their household have put off receiving needed medical care due to costs.

CQC urges lawmakers, insurers, and health care providers to address the medical debt crisis that plagues our health care system and discourages consumers from accessing the medical care they need.