On July 14, SignatureMD, a concierge medicine provider, sued its competitor, MDVIP, in federal court over allegations that the latter’s business practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, as well as California’s antitrust and unfair competition statutes in the Cartwright Act.
According to the lawsuit, MDVIP, the largest provider of concierge medicine in the United States that boasts 200,000 members and 700 physicians, tied doctors with “evergreen” contracts that cost $1 million to terminate, prevented doctors from seeing any patients who are not MDVIP members, and even stops doctors from switching allegiance to different concierge medicine providers for at least two years after their contract with MDVIP expires.
SignatureMD claims that MDVIP enjoys a 70 percent share of the concierge medicine membership program market and a 65 percent to 100 percent share in major cities and local markets across the country. Combined with MDVIP’s restrictive practices, SignatureMD argues, rival concierge medicine providers can no longer compete with it effectively. SignatureMD is seeking an injunction, damages and costs from MDVIP.
Concierge medicine is a relatively recent development in the U.S. healthcare industry. Patients pay either individual concierge doctors or a concierge medicine provider a set amount per year—usually between several hundred or a few thousand dollars, and in turn the doctors pledge to limit their intake of patients. On average, a concierge doctor sees six to eight patients a day, and gives comparatively more attention to each patient. Concierge doctors are usually also more involved in their patients’ treatment process outside of doctor’s visits. However, many concierge doctors and providers do not accept traditional health insurance, a big downside and barrier to the accessibility of concierge medicine.