Oregon requires registration for retainer practices

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A new Oregon law requires concierge and other “retainer” practices to register and be certified by the state. Find out why.

A new Oregon law is requiring concierge and other “retainer” practices to register and be certified by the state.

The bill, passed by the Oregon legislature in 2011 and effective at the start of 2012, requires concierge practices-those that charge patients a membership fee-to disclose cost and coverage clearly, according to the state of Oregon’s insurance division, part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services.

“This new law protects consumers by requiring medical practices to disclose details of the payment arrangement while hopefully improving access to the type of care that is designed to keep people healthy,” Acting Insurance Division Administrator Lou Savage said in a statement.

To obtain certification, a retainer medical practice must complete an application to the Oregon insurance division providing evidence of business experience, a physician's personal and professional background, and proof of financial responsibility. A practice also must attest that it will operate ethically. A retainer medical practice must renew its certification annually, at no cost to the practice.

The state also requires physicians with retainer practices to tell patients that their payment approach is not insurance and that patients may want to buy insurance because there are more costly medical services that the retainer fee will not cover, including hospital and specialist visits and surgeries. Some retainer practices accept insurance and some do not.

The state of Washington also requires retainer practices to register with the state, said Cheryl Martinis, public information officer for the Oregon insurance division, in an email to eConsult. Martinis did not know of any other state that requires registration.

In an email with eConsult, Wayne Lipton, chief executive officer of Concierge Choice Physicians, a “hybrid concierge” company that has 200 retainer practices in 20 states, said he did not know whether any other state currently requires registration, but that his company is keeping an eye on pending regulations in several states.