Patients Rights & Financial Resources
What is the Patient’s Bill of Rights?
Here you will find a summary of the Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities that was adopted by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry in 1998. It is also known as the Patients Bill of Rights.
The Patient’s Bill of Rights was created with the intent to reach three major goals:
1. To help patients feel more confident in the U.S. health care system; the Bill of Rights:
- Assures that the health care system is fair and it works to meet patients’ needs
- Gives patients a way to address any problems they may have
- Encourages patients to take an active role in staying or getting healthy
2. To stress the key role patients play in staying healthy by laying out rights and responsibilities for all patients and health care providers.
3. To stress the importance of a strong relationship between patients and their health care providers:
- This Bill of Rights also applies to the insurance plans offered to federal employees.
- Many other health insurance plans and facilities have also adopted these values.
- Even Medicare and Medicaid stand by many of them.
The 8 key areas of the Patient’s Bill of Rights
1. Information disclosure
You have the right to accurate and easily understood information about your health plan, health care professionals and health care facilities. If you speak another language, have a physical or mental disability, or just don’t understand something, help should be given so you can make informed health care decisions.
2. Choice of providers and plans
You have the right to choose health care providers who can give you high-quality health care when you need it.
3. Access to emergency services
If you have severe pain, an injury or sudden illness that makes you believe that your health is in serious danger, you have the right to be screened and stabilized using emergency services. You should be able to use these services whenever and wherever you need them, without needing to wait for authorization and without any financial penalty.
4. Participation in treatment decisions
You have the right to know your treatment options and take part in decisions about your care. Parents, guardians, family members or others that you select can represent you if you cannot make your own decisions.
5. Respect and non-discrimination
You have a right to considerate, respectful care from your doctors, health plan representatives and other health care providers that does not discriminate against you.
6. Confidentiality of health information
You have the right to talk privately with health care providers and to have your health care information protected. You also have the right to read and copy your own medical record. You have the right to ask that your doctor change your record if it is not correct, relevant or complete.
7. Complaints and appeals
You have the right to a fair, fast and objective review of any complaint you have against your health plan, doctors, hospitals or other health care personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, the actions of health care personnel and the adequacy of health care facilities.
8. Other bills of rights
This bill of rights focuses on hospitals and insurance plans, but there are many others with different focuses. There are special kinds, like the mental health bill of rights, hospice patient’s bill of rights, and bills of rights for patients in certain states. Insurance plans sometimes have lists of rights for subscribers. Many of these lists of rights tell you where to go or whom to talk with if you have a problem with your care. The American Hospital Association has a list of rights along with patient responsibilities that can help a person be a more active partner in his or her health care. (See “Additional resources” below.)
Health insurance problems
If you have concerns about your insurance, it is sometimes helpful to start with customer service or your case manager at your health insurance company. For more information about dealing with insurance claims, see our document Medical Insurance and Financial Assistance for the Cancer Patient.
More information from your American Cancer Society
The following related information may also be helpful to you. These materials may be ordered from our toll-free number, 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345).
Medical Insurance and Financial Assistance for the Cancer Patient (also available in Spanish)
Informed Consent (also available in Spanish)
Choosing a Doctor and a Hospital (also available in Spanish)
National organizations and Web sites*
Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of patient information and support include:
American Hospital Association
Toll-free number: 1-800-242-2626, Web site: www.aha.org
AHA’s Patient Care Partnership brochure educates patients on their rights and responsibilities in regard to their hospital stay. (The brochure is available in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.) The brochure is available in bulk orders only. There is a fee for non-members, but it is also available as a free download on the Web site, in all the languages mentioned.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – HHS
Toll-free number: 1-800-633-4227, TTY: 1-877-486-2048, Web site: www.cms.hhs.gov
Has information on Patient Rights
*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.
No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.