Can a doctor’s office refuse prenatal care to a self-paying patient?

I found out I am pregnant with my
second child, and today went to my
OBGYN to confirm. I do not have
insurance because I am very healthy,
rarely go to the doctor, and prefer to
pay out of pocket. I have no need for
health insurance. My husband tried to
add me to his insurance, but was denied
because this isn’t considered a ‘life
changing event’ to the insurance
company ridiculous, but okay…. I am
trying to get medicaid assistance, but
I’m afraid we make too much money to
qualify. Paying up front out of pocket
at every visit is not a problem.

Today when I told the lady at the front
desk I didn’t have insurance but wanted
to self-pay, she said they would not
see me without some kind of coverage. I
was shocked that my cold hard cash in
hand was not good enough. They were
very kind and did see me today at
least, but they never turned me down
when self-laying before with my first
child, and everything was paid up front
then too it was never an issue
before.

Can they legally discriminate just
because I can’t get any insurance, but
have the means to self pay in full at
every appointment??

Asked on May 19, 2016 under Malpractice Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

So long as such treatment does not constitute some form of legally actionablee discrimnation, then it is legal. And being a self-paying patient is not pprotected under th law. Therfore, your doctor's office had the right to make a business decision the same as any other business. Not accepting uninsured patients in and of itself does not violate the law.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they are allowed to do this. Doctors are not just doctors; they are essentially private businesses, too. A private business can decide to only take clients or patients who can pay in certain ways--e.g. by insurance; by cash; by credit card--by whatever the business wants. So just as some doctors take no insurance and only take cash patients and that is legal, so can a doctor refuse to take a cash patient and only take patients who have insurance coverage.


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