Money & Banking

Doctor's incredible $800,000 gesture to cancer patients

Doctor's incredible $800,000 gesture to cancer patients

A doctor from the US has helped out 200 of his former patients by forgiving their medical debts, as he plans to close his practice this year.

Oncologist Dr Omar Atiq plans to shut his practice, The Arkansas Cancer Clinic, down in March this year, after serving the community for close to 29 years.

After closing up shop, Dr Atiq tried to collect payments from some of his former patients but didn't get very far.

Speaking to Good Morning America, he revealed some people were unable to cover their debts, so after a discussion with his wife, they decided to forgive the debts of some 200 of his former clients.

"We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it," he said.

Dr Atiq's patients received a greeting card the week of Christmas, explaining their debt had been paid for and that the Arkansas Cancer Clinic "was proud to serve you as a patient".

“Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome,” the card said.

“Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. Arkansas Cancer Clinic is closing its practice after over 29 years of dedicated service to the community.

“The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients.”

In the end, Dr Atiq ended up erasing US$650,000, or roughly AU$842,000, of his patient's debt and explained ever since he opened up his practice, the thought of his sick patients worrying about money made him uneasy.

"I saw patients over the years who just didn’t have anything or who went bankrupt trying to pay for their treatment," he told Good Morning America.

"In many ways it seems like a totally unfair situation."

Good Morning America reported Dr Atiq is now working at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.