What is the Patient's Bill of Rights, and what does it mean?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

The Patient’s Bill of Rights has been around almost as long as the original Bill of Rights (just kidding -- it was created in the 1990s), but it recently got a major makeover with the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  On the most basic level, the Patient’s Bill of Rights protects the healthcare consumer by stating what services should be offered and available to you and by requiring fair, ethical treatment. It also gives you more choices (in fancy medical ethics terms this means you have autonomy to make your decisions). The Patient’s Bill of Rights gives you, the consumer, more control over your healthcare. It keeps health insurance companies from limiting your care and getting between you and your healthcare providers. Some highlights are:

  • Health insurers can’t refuse to cover a pre-existing condition in
           your child.
  • Health insurers can’t take away your coverage if you get sick.
  • Health insurers can’t set a lifetime limit on your coverage.
  • Health insurers can’t restrict their annual limit on your coverage.
  • You can choose any primary care doctor or pediatrician you want
           from your plan’s provider network.
  • Women can see an obstetrician or gynecologist in their network
           without needing a referral.
  • You don’t need approval from your insurer to get emergency care
           at a hospital that’s not in the insurer’s network.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.