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  • CME abuse

    Does anyone else get the relentless flyers to sign up for whatever overpriced product and you get a Amazon or whatever gift card?

    This most recent one specifically says that you use or lose your CME for the year get up to $2000 in gift cards.
    Quite the industry has built itself up by having employed physicians milk their employers to use every last CME dollar.
    I thought having 3 hours of CME a day at a resort for a week was obvious enough.

  • #2
    The company I work no longer reimburses physicians for these types of CMEs. They did for awhile, but I’m sure in a large group of 1000+ physicians it got abused quite a bit.

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    • #3
      I've seen these offers as well--they strike me as so unethical. Pre-tax money used for CME, gift card churned out.

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      • #4
        I admit that I did this a couple of years ago. I was not going to be able to use CME money that would otherwise disappear if not spent. I’m not sure it’s that much different than using CME money to cover most of the cost for a trip to a conference in Kona or Aspen (or Las Vegas, for that matter-lol). I much preferred it when a former employer just paid out any unused CME funds after tax as part of regular income at the end of the year rather than the use-it-or-lose-it model.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bmac View Post
          I much preferred it when a former employer just paid out any unused CME funds after tax as part of regular income at the end of the year rather than the use-it-or-lose-it model.
          I wish places would do this more often.

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          • DocNextDoor
            DocNextDoor commented
            Editing a comment
            Agree, my former employer did it that way for years and then claimed there was an IRS rule change that no longer allowed payout of unused amount. They now have a 12 page policy on allowable CME.

        • #6
          This wouldn't happen if employers would give the physicians the leftover money at the end of the year. These CME programs that give gift cards wouldn't exist if employers didn't have a 'use it or lose it' policy with regards to CME.

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          • #7
            Here is another example of one that was sent to my office today.
            even the model looks apprehensive.

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            • #8
              The group I am in pays out any unused professional spending/CME money as extra W2 pay at the end of the year. If you use it as CME or for professional spending, it is not taxed. If you get paid out, it is added to your income and you get taxed on it.

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              • #9
                What do these companies do exactly? Front as a CME and simply convert your funds to gift cards?

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by 8arclay View Post
                  What do these companies do exactly? Front as a CME and simply convert your funds to gift cards?
                  They all (at least the ones I'm aware of) give out legitimate CME (quality is different subject) except that it's incredibly overpriced and you get a large amount of the purchase priced given to back to you usually in the form of gift cards. For example, you may sign up for a 12 month subscription where they send you lectures every month for $2500 but they give you $2000 in gift cards.

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                  • #11
                    I used one of the audio CD CMEs to pay for a flight and hotel to Disney and my wife has done the gift card and a free ipad one. A few months ago my wife signed up for a cme in a city we wanted to visit so that we could have our hotel paid for. It's a smart business idea, make some overpriced cme with benefits for the physician. Now that I am part of a small private practice, I can convert any amount of my salary into CME reimbursement but take home that much less in salary. It probably doesn't make sense to do it anymore from a tax savings perspective after you take into account the amount that you have to spend on the cme company and I would worry more about an audit from the IRS now that I am part of a small practice. I just purchased a cruise line ticket though and I do wonder if taking a tax deduction on the cruise ticket would justify paying a cme company for one of those cme cruises.

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                    • #12
                      I'm curious how much you all are getting for CME. I barely get enough to cover one major conference in my specialty. There's no way I'd have any extra for shenanigans.

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                      • #13
                        I get 4k a year but I also have to use it for dues and subscriptions and whatnot.
                        since I precept med students I get to attend a couple of conferences for free so I tend to not spend much on the CME

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                        • #14
                          I subscribe to uptodate and easily get over 100 credits a year just by looking stuff up, you get 0.5 credits every time you click on an article. I just have to do the other stupid stuff our state assigns (patient safety, abuse screening, etc) separately, usually online for free as well. Before I subscribed to up to date, I did a bunch of online cme's that were free at different universities website. Just had to be more conscientious about doing them, but I could get through a years worth a cme usually by sitting in front of computer. I last physically attending a national nephrology specialty conference several years ago and discovered that I do not have the patience to sit through lectures anymore.

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                          • #15
                            Private practice--my CME budget is essentially unlimited, although I take it out of my wallet and put it the cash into my front pocket with a chunk missing.

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