AMA Issues Opinion On Retainer/ Concierge Medicine Practices

Dec 2003 – AMA Opinion 8.055

Dec 2003 – AMA REPORT – Opinion 8.055

The AMA’s boutique care guidelines

The AMA issued ethical standards to guide doctors interested in starting a retainer-style practice. Among those standards are:

• Both parties must agree to—and be clear about—the terms of the relationship. Patients who wish to opt out should be able to do so without undue hassles or financial penalties.

• Retainer-style practices shouldn’t be marketed as providing better diagnostic and therapeutic services.

• Doctors must help transfer—at no charge—nonparticipating patients to others. If no others are available, a doctor “may be ethically obligated to continue caring for such patients.”

• Doctors must be honest in billing third-party payers.

• Starting a retainer-style practice doesn’t exempt physicians from caring for those in need, especially those in need of urgent care.

For a copy of the AMA’s guidelines for concierge practices, contact the

Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs,
American Medical Assn.
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60610;

Tel: 312-464-4823
Fax: 312-464-4799

1 reply »

  1. Well, I’m glad to see the AMA is now giving us their blessed guidance on how to be ethical; like somehow they are the arbiters of this attribute and without them we (direct-pay docs) couldn’t figure out how to treat people correctly.

    Do they really think they can add any insight into an age-old practice that is really just a voluntary contract between and professional and client? Ethical business dealings have preceded the AMA and will continue long after they are gone, or lost what is left of their influence.

    It makes me wonder why the feel they have to come out with an official statement. Does the AMA know of abuses that are more prevalent in Concierge circles compared to traditional practices? Is there data to support a separate set of “ethics” for Concierge / Retainer practices that are above and beyond that which applies to all practices?

    But thank God, we now have some guidelines from above so we can stop floundering about how to treat our patients ethically!

    Thanks AMA!

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