Doctor Wipes Out $650K His Patients Owe Him

Oncologist was always troubled by the strain caused by medical debt
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2021 1:38 PM CST
Saying 'Happy Holidays,' Doctor Cancels Patients' Bills
Stock photo   (Getty/Motortion)

Over nearly 30 years, thousands of patients were treated at the Arkansas Cancer Clinic. No one was turned away for financial reasons, but the bills patients were left with troubled Dr. Omar Atiq. "I've always been rather uncomfortable with sick patients not only having to worry about their own health and quality of life and their longevity and their families and their jobs but also money," he says. The Pine Bluff clinic closed in February because of staffing shortages. For a few months, the oncologist used a billing company to try to collect overdue bills from his former patients, Good Morning America reports. Then he stopped. "I realized that there are people who just are unable to pay," Atiq says. "So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt."

He decided to wipe $650,000 of medical debt off his books. Atiq sent a note to his former patients saying: "The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy holidays." Some of his patients owed hundreds of dollars, some thousands. "We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people's lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff," Atiq said. The billing company helped him cancel the debt in a way that wouldn't hurt anyone's credit, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "I just hope that it made it a little bit easier for them," says Atiq. "That's it." (More uplifting news stories.)

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