The AMA was founded in part to establish the first national code of medical ethics. Today the Code is widely recognized as authoritative ethics guidance for physicians through its Principles of Medical Ethics interpreted in Opinions of AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that address the evolving challenges of contemporary practice.
Health disparities across patient populations reflect deeply embedded, historically rooted socioeconomic and political dynamics. Physicians and health care institutions have a duty to serve as agents of change to address these structural barriers to optimal health for all.
Physicians should not recommend, provide, or charge for unnecessary medical services; nor should they make intentional misrepresentations to increase the level of payment they receive or to secure non-covered health benefits for their patients.
Physicians have a responsibility to balance patients’ needs and expectations with responsible business practices. With respect to fees for nonclinical or administrative services provided in conjunction with patient care, physicians should clearly notify patients in advance of fees charged by the practice (if any) for nonclinical or administrative services and base fees (if any).
Financial obstacles to medical care can directly affect patients’ well-being and may diminish physicians’ ability to use their knowledge and skills on patients’ behalf. Physicians should not be expected to risk the viability of their practices or compromise quality of care by routinely providing care without compensation. Patients should make reasonable efforts to meet their financial responsibilities or to discuss financial hardships with their physicians.