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Did You Know That Only ~29% of MD’s Belong to the A.M.A.?

by Michael on December 26, 2009


Did you ever know that before?

The AMA and the media always portray the AMA to be the legitimate “speaking entity” representing practicing physicians.

If we look at these figures a bit closer, what about this:

29% of practicing doctors are members of the AMA, that means that 71% of practicing doctors are not members of the AMA.

That’s a better than 2 to 1 ratio of non-members to members.

So when the AMA “speaks out” for practicing md’s, they are actually only speaking out for the ~236,000 members, not the ~814,000 practicing doctors.


This makes me skeptical about how the media portrays the A.M.A. and gives me reason to question the validity of both the accuracy in the media and WHAT THE A.M.A. SAYS in public…

What gives the A.M.A. the right to speak for the ~578,000 practicing physicians who are non-members?

  • Does this suggest that many practicing physicians do not agree with the AMA’s agenda?
  • And if they do agree,  why aren’t they members?

Silly me, I always thought that you had to be a member of the American Medical Association to be a doctor. It turns out it is really just a trade association – with a whole lot of clout.

Or is it?

So, more questions:

  1. Is the AMA actually supporting the huge medical and economic debacle being thrust upon a non-receptive public in Congress?
  2. Or is some other entitiy (or group of entities) merely trying to create that impression?
  3. And what do the ~814,000 practicing physicians actually think about it?

Doctors are generally good people – like most Americans. They work hard. They care. They feed their families and they do the best they can. Like every other profession they have good days and bad ones. Some are financially savvy and some are terrible business people. Most doctors are dedicated to their patients’ well being.

There is a perception among of the American public that they can trust their doctors. So if an entity with an agenda can make it look like doctors support something, it lends credibility to the “thing they are supposed to be supporting”, inadvertently the American people accept this subtle validation and feel safer about this choice.

While it is PR genius, it is not necessarily honest to do this.

A Sidebar Regarding Bureauspeak…

Just for the record, I tried reading both of the letters written by the A.M.A. to Congress, one to Nancy Pelosi and one to Harry Reid. Quite honestly, they gave me a headache trying to figure out what they meant.

When I was done reading them, I could not tell if the A.M.A. supports the legislation or not – maybe kind of it might and maybe not really it doesn’t.

I know this. When I write a letter, I do my best to clarify what I am saying to the recipient. I am pretty sick of “bureau-speak”, “double-speak”, legal-ese, innuendo and political correctness and I think the vast majority of American taxpayers agree with me – regardless of some NYT poll saying otherwise.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you don’t believe it – or it is not true in some way – don’t say it. If it is true make it so everybody can understand what you are talking about.

This reminds me of Benjamin Franklin’s 3 B’s of Public Speaking: BE LOUD, BE BRIEF, BE SEATED.

Let’s do a what if scenario and see what it looks like:

For purposes of argument, let’s create this premise:

51%  (a simple majority) of AMA members support the Health Care Bill.  (Please note these figures are ‘ball-park’ estimates)

Let’s look at the math…

In that scenario, the A.M.A. or the media could say a majority of A.M.A. doctors support the Health Care Bill


(.51)x(236,000)=120,360 doctors are in favor of the Health Care Bill.

Now given that premise, suppose the media reports that:

A majority of Doctors in the AMA are in favor of the Heath Care Bill in Congress.

Here’s a reality check:

If it were actually a simple majority of all practicing physicians, it would require:

(.51) x (814,000) = 415,140 physicians to be in favor of the Health Care Bill.

compared to

(.51) x (236,00) = 120,360 a simple majority of actual A.M.A members

It seems to me that the difference between the actual simple majority of all practicing physicians (~415,000) and a simple majority of all A.M.A. membership (~120,360 )  is statistically significant.

This is not merely a statistical error, in my eyes. It is a deliberate construct and a distortion of the facts.

Are the media or the A.M.A. misrepresenting the facts when they make such a claim? Or are there special interest groups making it look like the A.M.A. is taking that position? Isn’t the media’s real job to be a watchdog for the public’s best interest and to dig for the truth no matter what they find?

Maybe that used to be the case, but apparently it is no longer…

You draw your own conclusion.

And further…

If the A.M.A. is not supported by a ‘majority’ of practicing physicians, which their own membership numbers would suggest,  who is supporting them?

Here is my point with all this, and I am not gunning for the American Medical Association, if we listen to the media, it often sounds like the AMA is a very powerful organization. When you look at the actual numbers, it isn’t.

In fact, according to a June 14th blog,, about half of the paid members are students in medical school or retired doctors…

The AMA’s self-presentation is as a membership organization of doctors. But many doctors, of course, are not AMA members, and the group “inflates its numbers by giving reduced membership fees to medical school students and retirees, who make up about half of the dues payers.” … [T]he AMA has found that it can’t rely on membership dues to generate the kind of revenue that the AMA leadership is looking for. Instead, they’ve turned to corporate sponsorship—businesses with money to make by casting a veneer of medical respectability around their pursuit of profit find a relationship with the AMA to be useful.

…What they are on the hook for, however, is the pharmaceutical lobby which provides at least 20 percent of the AMA’s budget. And PhRMA is in the midst of a multimillion dollar advocacy campaign against many progressive health reform ideas.

The real question is:

Who wants it to look like:

  • The A.M.A. is the primary “spokeperson” for doctors – and

My guess is that it would be an entity or group of entities that stands to benefit by the passage of the Health Care Bill. What do you think?

In my eyes, the real losers here in all this are the future generations of kids who will have to pay for all this.

The real health care crisis is that as a nation, as a people and as human beings, we are not learning how to be healthy. We are not teaching our children and new generations how to be healthy. Obesity, chronic cardio-vascular disease, cancer and stress are at an all time high and on the increase – they are not diminishing.

This is an excellent example demonstrating that throwing more money at a problem has no direct relationship to positive results – particularly when those spending the money do not earn it and are not accountable to those who do.

The other losers are all the American people who believe in their government and who used to rely on the media for facts. It is fast becoming evident that neither are reliable resources for the truth and are rapidly becoming mere shadows of a fading viability of the past.

This is the real crisis we are facing.

The best thing each of us can do is learn how to be healthy – physically, emotionally, mentally, Spiritually and financially. Teaching the individual to be the outstanding uniquely powerful beings that they are is the best way to protect the group as a whole – collectively.

“Teach a man to fish…”

I AM Michael Barrett and In-powering people TO BE HEALTHY is my passion in life.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joyfuljoy, atlanta ga April 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm

This is a totally slanted to the right wing evaluation. Where do you get your figures?
As an R.N. who practiced for 40 years, I never knew a doc who didn’t belong to and support the AMA.
Get your facts straight….you are not entitled to your own made-up out of your arse facts.


Michael Barrett January 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

Hi Joyfuljoy,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this post. I would like to take exception to your comment.

Quoting from your comment:

Get your facts straight….you are not entitled to your own made-up out of your arse facts.

I would like to pount out that I listed my source for the data and here is the link:

If you read the article at that link, you will find two additional sources with specific data. including the following:

According to its 2008 annual report, the AMA “is a national professional association of physicians with approximately 236 thousand members,” and the AMA’s online physician locator — which states that it provides “basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States” — includes “more than 814,000 doctors.”

A March 2005 USA Today article similarly reported that “[t]he nation now has about 800,000 active physicians.” Based on the AMA figures, the association represents slightly less than 29 percent of licensed physicians in the United States.

From my experience, and perspective, open discussion is important to both freedom and HEALTH. And I welcome criticism, particularly when I am in error or incorrect, because I want to be accurate and improve my own understanding.

That’s how America grows as a nation and a people. I love America and I love fact that you have the right to say exactly what is on your mind, and not disappear in the night because you disagree with someone powerful – like in many parts of the world.

Expansion comes through consensus. Consensus comes through dialog, logical argument and open discussion. That’s how we learn.

Here is a definition of consensus:

An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole…
General agreement or accord: government by consensus.

The point I am making here is that the numbers that were portrayed by the media implied a consensus of all doctors, yet even using the A.M.A.’s own membership numbers, that implication is not an honest representation of the facts.

When it’s all said and done, I do not have a beef with individual doctors. Doctors themselves are just people like you and me. My issues lies with distorted information presented as fact. If you would like to verify for yourself, here is the contact info for the A.M.A., from their website:

Membership Services

Membership questions
For questions related to AMA membership, please visit AMA’s
Frequently Asked Questions page or
contact AMA Member Relations at (800) 262-3211.

Thanks again for the comment and let’s talk some more.


Have a great 2011.


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