US oncologist Dr. Omar Atiq has cleared a total of $650,000 worth of hospital bills for 200 cancer patients treated at The Arkansas Cancer Clinic.
Dr. Omar Atiq founded the cancer clinic in 1991 and closed it in early 2020 after nearly 30 years. Realising that many patients were struggling to pay the bills that they owed the hospital, he decided to forgive their debt.
The patients found out their hospital bills would be forgiven in a Christmas greeting card last December (2020).
Written by Dr. Omar Atiq, the card read: “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. Happy Holidays!”
Coming to the US in 1985, Atiq is originally from Pakistan.
Speaking to Today, Dr. Atiq said, “Starting from day one, our policy was never to refuse a patient to be seen whether or not they had insurance,” so a significant amount of money was owed to the clinic, which provided oncology services such as radiation and chemotherapy. “The chemotherapy drugs are horrendously expensive, it’s almost unbelievable.
“You see patients who are just not able to pay. So there are sick people, especially with cancer, and then in the COVID pandemic where people have lost jobs… who are doing all sorts of stuff just to survive.
“For them to have this additional burden, it occurred to us that we were blessed to be able to do this.
“The issue of medical debt is one of the biggest causes of personal bankruptcies. In a country that is so vast, so rich, so prosperous for that to happen, I think that’s the issue — not necessarily that somebody was able to help in a small way.”
Dr. Atiq is a wonderful example for how we should be generous with our resources and help those who need it.