According to a separate census conducted by the Federation of State Medical Boards, there were 878,194 physicians with active licenses last year in the U.S. While this corresponds to the AMA representing 25.6% of U.S. physicians, AMA membership is also open to medical students who pay $20 in annual membership dues and retired physicians who pay $84 a year—compared with the $420 in dues the organization charges for active, licensed physicians practicing full time.
The board of trustees' report said the AMA closed 2011 with 217,490 members, an increase of almost 0.8% from the 2010 mark of 215,854. But despite the increase in membership, it was noted in the AMA's 2011 annual report that dues revenue dropped almost 1.6% that year to $37.5 million from $38.1 million. The report explained that group and resident memberships had increased, but those members pay less in dues.
Details about 2012 dues revenue have not yet been posted.
Membership displeasure with the AMA's endorsement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was reflected in a 5.3% decline in membership in 2010, down to 215,854 from about 228,000 in 2009.
The most recent high-water mark for AMA membership was in 2007 when it had approximately 241,000 members. That year was also significant as it stopped a streak of seven straight years of membership declines. Part of the reason the streak ended was because 8,577 first-year residents took the AMA up on an offer of free memberships made available to new doctors who had been AMA members the previous year as students.
But in 2008, AMA membership renewed its downward slide with a 2% decrease to about 236,000.
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks