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Lodge practice was a means of acquiring inexpensive medical care, used by people with low incomes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were often organized as part of a Benefit Society. Member patients would pay a low annual rate, and would be able to visit a facility as needed, where a doctor would regularly perform rounds. Essentially, it was purchasing medicine at a "bulk rate". The rates could be as low as $1 per year per person, which is roughly $24 per year in 2014 dollars, or $3 per year for a family. This did not include surgery or obstetrics.
The contracted physicians were often young and early in their careers. Lodge practice provided them with a means of assured, if relatively low, income, as well as a means of building up reputation. There was high competition among such physicians to acquire a lodge position, despite the relatively low compensation they would recieve. However, after gaining experience, many would move on to standard practice.
Lodge practice received pressure from some doctors, who condemned it for being too inexpensive, degrading their profession and lowering their wages.
- New York Times article from Dec 6, 1910, wherein a physician voices his strong opposition
- Inflation calculation by CPI
- "Contract or lodge practice and its influence on medical attitudes to health insurance." (Available on NIH website)