Should patients pay when they miss doctor’s appointments?

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  • Astrid (pseudonym) says:

    I have missed my family doctor appointments seven times in the past five years. I’ve had around 22 appointments in that time, so I’ve missed around a third of my appointments. I acknowledge that it is harmful to our medical system (and to other patients) when appointments are missed and I earnestly do not wish to miss my appointments because a) I know it’s harmful to others and b) it is a significant cost to me. I just missed another appointment yesterday. Why? I have a learning disability. It’s mild enough that no one recognizes it as a disability, but it’s still there. I have always had difficulty remembering to make it to irregularly timed meetings/events. I wrote my appointment for yesterday on my calendar. I saw it several times last week and I thought to myself, “I need to remember to go.” I still forgot. I am trying to conquer my disability and get better at these skills, but to be charged $85 dollars for missing my appointment feels like a fee for my disability. It’s not fair, and I find it frustrating when doctors assume that all patients who regularly miss appointments do so because they are inherently disrespectful to the doctors and other patients. If my doctor’s office sent out automated email to patients a week as well as a day ahead to remind the patient of the appointment, I would have remembered to go. According to Your Health Matters (, a doctor’s office that implemented reminders saw a decrease in no-shows and last minute cancellations, which is now at 10% of all appointments. The average rate in Canada for no-shows/cancellations is between 20 and 25%. I think that studies need to be done to identify the extent to which the rate of missed appointments is correlated with individuals with mental disabilities and/or illnesses (which is on the patient’s file, so it should be easy enough to do). I also think that if doctor offices charge a no-show fee, they should also be legally required to send out automated appointment reminders. Otherwise the system disproportionately harms individuals with mental disabilities or illnesses.

  • Cecelia Mckenna says:

    Hi. I’m not paying a fee for missing an appointment. If an emergency came up beyond my control, then it can’t be helped. Further, I call to reschedule, always. I don’t leave them hanging. But, when I’m having to wait for three hours to be seen, (one time, they forgot I was there) my time is valuable too. Doctors get paid even if you show up or not. I worked for one. If not at the time of your appointment, the next week or so. There are always walk-ins. It’s not right when they ask for money to treat a, “ghost”. Plus, they should be more worried about the patient than money. I don’t see a Doctor that asks for a fee for missing an appointment. Thank goodness my PCP doesn’t do that. He is super busy all the time so he makes money. :)

  • Eva says:

    when my doctor make me wait for 40 minutes, I understand that she is very busy. There is no argument.
    However, today, I was late for 40 minutes for my doctor appointment due to an emergency meeting, there is a $60 penalty.
    They told me the reason is when the doctor is waiting for me, the other patients are suffering….
    Everyone’s time is valuable, when the doctor make me wait, there are consequences too. Why there are two standards in the situation?

  • Jason Remigio III says:

    No, even your on time your still waiting 2-3 hours after your appointment. It’s should be quick since you have a job to go to. During the week, I set up a doctor appointment when I don’t need to see them. To just book in case I was sick. When I was sick, they are booked for the whole month. Causing you to go to work sick. Now the state has sick pay you can call in sick. Normally, you would be sick on a different day or seen the doctor on your appointment the day after your sick. I’m pretty busy, scheduling is tough for me when I need the whole day off.

  • Jo says:

    What happens if one does not pay when the invoice arrives?

  • Keone says:

    Jeremy Hunt told BBC One s Question Time he did not have a problem with making patients pay if they missed appointments but said implementing it would be difficult. However, he downplayed the idea of making patients pay if they fail to turn up, saying the government was not actively pursuing the idea amid concerns it would be “punitive” and put off elderly patients seeing doctors.

  • Julieth Rosani says:

    I think the doctors could ask for the no show fee if they see their patients on time and if the patient doesn’t show they are sitting doing nothing, but if they make the patient wait for an hour or longer, then the no show would only help them to catch up. Why the doctor can make us wait two hours like our time is not valuable?


Paul Taylor


Paul Taylor is a health journalist and former Patient Navigation Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he provided advice and answered questions from patients and their families. Paul will continue to write occasional columns for Healthy Debate.

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