General

When patients don't pay

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22 Jul 2016 - General
 

Its certain that almost all healthcare professionals have a Messianic complex. The emotional gratification that we get from saving lives is indescribable. But at the end of the day, like everyone else, we need to pay for living expenses. As much as we want to be charitable, we charge for professional fees to earn a living. In the Philippines, financial settlement for healthcare expenses remains largely out-of-pocket. It is not rare to have patients who are unable to pay for professional fees. A lot of hospitals prioritize settlement of hospital bills over professional services to allow release of the patient. In my setting, it is against the law to detain a patient who is unable to pay hospital bills. Hospitals legally arrange this problem by obtaining a collateral or a promissory note for settlement of hospital bills. Doctors are notified if the clients are unable to pay. Doctor's secretaries or representative make arrangements with the patients and their relatives. However, this becomes problematic when patients no longer follow up/settle financially. How often do you encounter these kinds of patients and how do you deal with this problem?

@Maria - What an experience. I can't believe someone can be that ungrateful after you going out of your way to help her. Being a lawyer, I don't think money was a problem for her at all. It's just that some people don't have a sense of humanity in them. A poor man, apologizing and asking for free treatment is perfectly okay in my view. I don't mind even being woken up at night to see a poor person in distress without getting a payment. But people like your patient. Although I...
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Interesting experiences. @ Maria: That's specially annoying because she requested for treatment beyond your clinic hours! I can't believe she never settled and she is capable of paying. That's just horrendous. @ Jennifer: I have some friends from the accounting department and its very difficult to run after clients. Sometimes they will change addresses and even their jobs. To add to that, our laws on such are so liberal that these people almost don't get penalized for running fro...
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Payment of doctor and hospital dues is a matter of mutual trust and respect. While finance is an inevitable aspect of the medical profession, it must be understood that we have a far bigger calling than money only. It is a fact that most doctors will earn enough to cover for a luxurious life. If we fall in the so-called rat race and compare ourselves with other professions, then we would feel that the earning is not enough.
In our hospital there is no system of taking an advance cash deposit...
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I will usually refuse to give my patient the medications unless he pays. We will not accept cheque. If a patient requires the medication urgently, I will give him medication enough to last one day only so that he will have enough time to return with money. If the patient truly has no money at all, I will refer him to government run clinic for consultation and free medications. A lot of times, my patient forgot the wallet or did not expect the bill to run over their estimates. Once my friend;s cl...
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Oh. In private practice I've had patients whose checks bounced, didn't come back for follow-up and therefore, had remaining balance unpaid. But the worst is when a patient came in to me and didn't pay at all. I blogged about this. So what happened was I was treating my last patient for the day when a woman (lawyer) called and begged to be received because her crown fell off. I thought it was a simple recementation, so I told my assistant it's fine, even thought it was already 630...
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