AMA announces new membership strategy

Dues are expected to hold at the current level.

By Bonnie Booth — Posted Jan. 5, 2004

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Honolulu -- The American Medical Association wants you.

To that end, it has put together 10 strategic initiatives meant to help the organization become more "member-centered." They include: identifying high-profile ways to involve individual members in shaping the AMA's agenda and policy; enhancing member-only benefits; expanding direct-marketing programs; and pursuing group and faculty practices for membership. What the Association will not do is reduce dues, now set at $420 for regular members.

"An immediate dues reduction is not fiscally sound," AMA Trustee Cecil B. Wilson, MD, a Florida internist, told the AMA House of Delegates here in December 2003. Nor, he said, do studies show it would translate to an immediate increase in members.

Delegates, however, urged the AMA Board of Trustees to consider studying price elasticity of membership, citing the perception that price does matter. They also asked the board to consider a discount for rapid payment of dues.

As of December 2003, the AMA had approximately 250,000 members. That number is down 3.8% from the previous year and continues a downward trend that has plagued the Association for nearly two decades.

According to the AMA's strategic membership plan, the loss is driven more by members who do not renew than by a decline in newcomers.

Membership revenues were expected to have decreased $3.9 million in 2003 and are budgeted to decrease an additional $2.7 million in 2004. The board has budgeted $5 million for new membership initiatives in 2004 .

Overall, the AMA expected to achieve an $8.5 million operating profit in 2003 and is projecting a $4.1 million operating profit for 2004.

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