Can a doctor refuse to treat you if you have two different insurance carriers?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a doctor refuse to treat you if you have two different insurance carriers?

My father has a primary care doctor he’s been seeing for about a year who
recently refused to see him on the day of his scheduled appointment. The
reason given was that my father has a new insurance carrier I don’t recall which
one but that his carrier from last year Humana shows him as still being
enrolled in Humana. My parents are struggling to get through to Humana on the
phone to resolve this, but I’m uncertain as to why the doctor can’t just bill the
new carrier regardless. Is it even legal for the doctor to refuse care to someone
with a valid insurance policy just because their old policy also shows as being

Asked on January 8, 2019 under Insurance Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

This is legal:
1) As a general rule, doctors are not forced to take or keep patients, or to provide care, if they don't want to--doctors are not public servants, they are essentially each their own business, and just like a given accountant or plumber could refuse a job or a customer, so can a doctor.
2) If the doctor isn't set up to take or doesn't have a contract with the new insurer, they might be paid less, might have to spend more staff time (i.e. money) to get paid, or might have difficulty getting paid at all. The doctor is not required to take on those risks or costs.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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