Collecting the deductible

March 25, 2011

Understand your rights regarding patients who refuse to pay their deductible expenses.

Q. What can I do about patients who refuse to pay their deductible expenses?

A: These are obligations patients have to the insurance companies that they have elected to engage for their coverage. The doctor is required, generally by a specific contract, to bill and collect for these contractual amounts. If a person simply refuses to pay, the company policies can be shared with the patient at the time of services, and if the patient continues to resist, the practice should consider terminating care for the patient. Of course, this has to be done in a fashion that recognizes the fact that there is a responsibility for continuity of care and for transition of the medical record to another provider. Often, an ombudsperson from the insurance company, or a representative from a social services agency in the case of Medicare, can be helpful in explaining the obligation that patients have for participating in the financial coverage of care that they are receiving.

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