I Stopped My Membership at the AAFP


I kept getting the warning emails like these from the American Academy of Family Practice:

Don’t let your membership be canceled. Pay your dues.

For only $685 a year (a price that has climbed since I started), I could be in their good graces.  My best friend and former medical partner always thought of it as a rip-off but we were employed and our hospital paid this fee so we didn’t  care.  I hadn’t seen him since this August, since I moved, but recently caught up with him and talked about it.   What was the benefit of being in the AAFP?  We couldn’t think of anything other than the CME exams from the journals and the easy aggregation of the CME credits in one place.  The latter was pretty cool in 1994 when computer programs were in their infancy.  Nowadays there has got to be a free app for that.

So I Iet my membership lapse.  I am self-employed and $685 is a lot. Then I decided that I am not going to the AAFP annual conference (Scientific Assembly), even though it is a very close to me this year, because that would be a few grand more.  I also didn’t want to see the same grinning faces there telling me “All is well!  All is well!” like Kevin Bacon in Animal House.

One day after my expiration date, I received an email with the following subject line “Your AAFP membership has been canceled”.   How sweet was that, huh? The body of the email was as follows:

Reinstate your membership today

I regret to inform you that your membership in the AAFP has been canceled for nonpayment of dues.

If you believe that your membership was canceled in error, or you wish to reinstate your membership, please contact us immediately at (800) 274-xxxx.

The AAFP will continue to advocate for family medicine and the interests of our members and their patients. We would welcome the opportunity to serve you again.

Elaine Jastram Conrad, CAE
Director, Membership Division

And that was that.  I thought about it and realized how out of touch these people are.  A good company would tell me the over benefit of keeping this membership.  They would explain the dramatic difference their organization makes to my life and tell me “what is in it for me?”  They would then list their accomplishments to show their credibility and give me a real reason to believe and pay.  Does anybody think that email did that?

I have been a member of the AAFP for 20 years.  I was tossed away one day after my membership expired.  I don’t think I will join again unless someone tells me what I am missing by not doing so?  Before you say they represent my views, let me remind you that this organization embraces P4P, quality indicators, ACOs, the ACA, militant LELTs, and snubs its nose at Direct Primary Care.  Not exactly my views.

  16 comments for “I Stopped My Membership at the AAFP

  1. John
    May 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    The AAFP has been advocating on your behalf and not just on behalf of P4P or ACOs etc. I personally have spent the last 4 years trying to prevent the ACA from further damaging small and rural practices, a position I was put in by the AAFP. More recently I have been a part of the AAFP advocacy committee. We have two public meetings a year. Check them out. The AAFP voice has been effective and getting better, but we have a long way to go. We just started our PAC recently and without this we were not very effective. The AAFP is a membership driven organization, which means that the issues that are taken up are generated from the membership. You have to speak up and, if you do, you will likely be put in charge of a committee. Don’t whine. Get involved. There is no one else speaking for us, and other organizations are pushing hard.

    • Doug Farrago
      May 19, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Wow, this is the second pro-AAFP person responding to my little blog. Weird. I appreciate the interest but too little, too late. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t the AAFP take the ACA bait hook, line and sinker when it came out? The PAC you talk about is a subgroup that also has been asking me for MORE money separate from the $700 a year. But you are right. I do whine. That is why I write this blog every day. Helps my stress. It also keeps me involved and you are wrong in your last sentence. I SPEAK FOR US. It’s just that the AAFP doesn’t listen. 🙂

    • Pat
      May 19, 2014 at 9:27 am

      John, “not just on behalf of P4P or ACO’s, etc.”? That is entirely the point: the AAFP has for some time specifically supported a number of initiatives that further hamper physician autonomy, under the guise of improving primary care.

      Like Doug, I’m a board certified FP. I specifically chose FP, had good training, and was excited to establish my own practice. Now I actively encourage any med student who asks to stay as far away from primary care as possible. The AAFP has been little brother to the AMA in supporting the ACA, and gave the media a lot of gov’t-friendly pull quotes over the past decade to back the latter’s agenda. The whole ‘patient-centered medical homes’ agenda, grant money and all, has been an absolute joke. Mandated EHR’s are literally closing down family practice offices, and where was the AAFP?

      From the AAFP website, 4/1/2011: “I would say the biggest reason (for the higher EHR adoption rate among FPs) is AAFP leadership around the issue,” said Terry McGeeney, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of TransforMED, the AAFP’s wholly owned subsidiary that specializes in practice redesign. “The AAFP had very consistent messaging early that EHRs are critically important to the future of the specialty.”

      That’s a great message to send to the struggling practitioners who now are spending between $50k and $200k per two-doc clinic to put in something the government is forcing, that you supported.

      The AAFP has only been effective in advancing the further collectivization of medicine. If you are truly the voice of your membership then you increasingly represent a group of masochists who are embracing their own harm. Want to be truly effective? Scream “Enough” to the media, and advocate that your membership no longer accept Medicaid or Medicare fee structures. Ditto ICD-10. Tell the media that the stupid 1999 IOM report that resulted in MOC was wrong, and is being used coercively by hospitals and insurance companies to force docs to spend money and time on garbage that does not improve their practices. Come out publicly against the ABMS. Challenge your membership to be the leading force at moving away from mandates and unproven, arbitrary quality goals, and toward direct primary care. If you don’t do so and quickly, then all you’re going to be left with is an auditorium of unhappy NP’s and PA’s the next time you have to sell another gov’t mandate.

      • R Watkins
        May 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

        Great post.

      • Kurt
        May 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        Holee Guacamole Pat, that dynamite post hit it on the head. Kurt

  2. Russell
    May 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    You know the real answer is there are only so many ways you can have a voice loud enough to be heard and organized medicine is it. People complain about that is happening to the profession and how powerless we are; believe me, if we did not have these organizations advocating for the profession, you’d be working for CVS under the supervision of an NP. If you don’t like what is being advocated, get involved and change it. Not paying your dues is a statement of weakness, not strength. If you can’t afford the dues, I am sure they have programs to subsidize those who can’t afford it.

    • Doug Farrago
      May 18, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Sorry, but once again, they advocate for quality indicators, bogus metrics, unproven ACOs and PCMHs, and let the NPs in the henhouse. No more money from me.

  3. Kurt
    May 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Good for you Doug and others. I got 7 years to go and then outta here. I will not be volunteering afterwords because the cost of being able to maintain a volunteer practice is too much. Direct primary care is too late for me and will not fly in poor, medically underserved areas. Plus as I’ve said before, “Nothing will change in
    this country until people are held accountable for their lousy health behaviors.” This accountability crap is
    just a ploy to make us poorer.

  4. Lenny
    May 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I’m an anesthesiologist, not an FP, but I would never drop my membership in ASA, or our state assn. Their lobbying has helped increase our Medicare reimbursement, and prevented totally independent practice by CRNA’s.
    Don’t be “free rider”. Elect more effective leadership.

    • Doug Farrago
      May 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Your point is taken but…..they haven’t increased our income like yours. They suck.

  5. Tim
    May 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I am been a AAFP member since 1985. Two years ago I stopped active full time practice due to a CA i have. I was put on the reduced annual rate at that time.
    A few months ago, I got the membership canceled notice. I called and told it was because I was no longer in an active practice. I gave them the speil that I had been an active member for about 30 years and was always in good standing and had my FAAFP. They told me that would reinstate me at that time. Did it happen? Hell no. They will not even respond to me anymore. Could be because I am now on the “reduced dues” plan?
    Will had my 30 years of dues refunded.

  6. Sandy
    May 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Actually, to my chagrin, the AAFP has begun to support direct primary care and even has some workshops coming up to show doctors how to do it. I would prefer they show docs how to bill insurances and lower overhead so that the independent practitioner can thrive without having to charge patients a fee for concierge service. But then they never have been in the forefront for viable practice models for the solo practitioner (remember the “micropractice” a few years ago? Does anyone actually do that now?)

    I would have thought there would have been more objection to their taking money from Coca-Cola and Nature’s Way for allowing them space to advertise on their patient education website. Now that’s worth quitting that organization over. I appreciate the easy CMEs and the time and expense it saves me from traveling to one of their pricey courses to fulfill my three year requirements. Being in private practice, I also appreciate their advice when I have billing questions or on issues of practice management. They probably give you more bang for your buck than most professional organizations.

    What I don’t appreciate is having to pay dues to my state chapter which does absolutely nothing for me in return. Unfortunately, you can’t be a member unless you fund both groups.

    • R Watkins
      May 14, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Far, far worse than the Coke association is the fact that the AAFP sells PCMH-related services through its Transformed subsidiary. If you ever wonder why the AAFP has no interest in an honest discussion of the PCMH or why they are so quick to attack any study questioning its value, look no further. And, when you see on the Transformed web-site the proud announcement that they are being paid (off) by, among others, United and various Blue Cross groups, you’ve got a conflict of interest wide enough to drive a truck through . . .

  7. Jim
    May 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

    20 years? You’re kidding. What took you so long? You didn’t look at their mission statement? Does the plumber’s union advocate for leaky pipes? Do you hear the brotherhood of electrical workers advocating for downed power lines? Why is the AAFP advocating for patients? Who pays their bloated administrative costs to “prove” that board certification makes any difference in outcome? Who pays for their constantly changing “for the benefit of medicine” recertification requirements?
    There is a reason why primary care is the lowest paid yet highest demand of all specialties. It is the failure of the AAFP to advocate for you.

  8. Pat
    May 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I haven’t been a member in…honestly it’s been so long, I forgot. Must’ve been at least a decade. Like you, I never saw any advantage beyond the CMEs in the magazine, damn sure not worth the price of the dues. I dumped these losers because, beyond not advocating my interests, they have been actively working against my interests. The AAFP actively, positively supports positions and programs that result in more government intrusion into my life, and less money in my pocket. Only a textbook masochist would want this kind of treatment, and who would want to see a “50 Shades of Primary Care” movie? Of course, only a dwindling number of AAFP’rs. Wouldn’t even cover the direct-to-video production costs.

  9. Ken
    May 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

    My life only changed for the better after letting my membership lapse. I get less junk mail asking for more money, and I am hundreds of dollars per year richer. I still have no idea what they actually do, and under their watch family medicine has become a worsening speciality. Here’s to their eventual demise!

Comments are closed.