Top Ten Medical Bill Excuses

Top 10 reasons a patient doesn't pay their medical bill.

We hear all kinds of medical bill excuses when calling patients with past due accounts. People come up with all kinds of creative excuses. Just when I think I've heard them all from my years doing this, I'll hear a completely new one. So we create our own top ten excuses for not paying a medical bill.

The list is completely subjective but I tried to rank by the frequency we hear the excuse.

If you have any interesting medical bill excuses to add, please submit them at the bottom of the page.

10. “I just don't have the money right now.”

I can appreciate an honest answer. 

9. “I lost the bill. Can you send another one?”

This is typically after we’ve been sending them statements for three to six months.

8. “I have so many medical bills, I just can't afford to pay it right now.”

Depending on a patient's insurance coverage and the time spent in the hospital, a providers charges are small compared to some of the hospital bills they may face. Many times a patient in this situation will offer to work out a payment plan which many providers will welcome.

7. “I couldn't understand the statement.”

I can certainly understand this excuse. Depending on the practice management software, the patient statement can be cryptic and difficult for someone without a medical background to understand.

6. “The bill showed a procedure that I didn't remember having done.”

If the statement doesn't have an understandable description along with the medical billing codes, it's up to the patient to figure it out. Most people don't have the patience for that.

5. “I've already paid it.”

Sadly many times they are right because their payments were never entered. Sometimes entering payments is a low priority when a provider is short on office help. So entering payments into the medical billing software becomes a low priority.

4. "Personal reasons"

This is usually followed by the specific reason. You would be surprised how much information people you don’t know are willing to share with you.

3. “I Never got a bill.”

You would be surprised how many patients may actually have never received a bill due to the sloppy billing practices of some offices. Or don't you love it when you receive a bill so long after a visit that you can't even remember what its for? I've seen the his happen over a year after the date of service.

One of the biggest reasons is because a providers billing is in such a mess that when they bring someone in to straighten things out, they have to get the current claims submitted (or corrected) before they work on the accounts receivables - or patient responsibilities. Some times a claim has been denied or rejected and by the time the medical biller figures it out, it can be several months later.

2. “My husband (or wife) left me.”

and my very favorite of all medical bill excuses.....

1. “I’m mad at the doctor.”

That's right - a good old fashioned grudge! They don't like the doctor so they don't feel obligated to pay for his or her services. Many times this would be followed by a statement like "Go ahead and send me to collections - I don't care!"

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