CADE fines medical entities for trying to prevent the use of discount cards in consultations


Cade's investigation began in October 2018, based on representation from the Department of Consumer Protection and Defense of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (DPDC / MJSP). The agency presented documents pointing to indications that CFM and Cremesp were threatening doctors and clinics that accept the card, opening investigations and ethical-disciplinary proceedings against them to apply sanctions.

In February 2019, Cade instituted administrative proceedings and imposed a preventive measure against CFM and Cremesp to determine the cessation of the effects of the practice, while the municipality was investigating the case. Due to the measure, Cremesp reported that it suspended all investigations and ethical-professional processes that were in progress at the time, in a total of 275 procedures. Besides, the CFM revoked resolutions and article 72 of the Code of Medical Conduct, which limited the performance of discount card companies.

On the 3rd of June, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense sentenced the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) and the Regional Council of Medicine of the State of São Paulo (Cremesp) to pay fines for anti-competitive practices. The Court's conclusion was that the entities prevented health professionals and establishments from accepting discount cards in medical consultations, harming consumers.

The holder of the "Everyone Card" pays a monthly fee to the card provider to have access to discounts on medical consultations provided by clinics and doctors who adopt such cards. According to the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS), this type of card does not constitute a health plan, and as long as the consumer is aware of it, there is no legal impediment to its sale.

Anti-competitive practices consisted of the stipulation of rules by the CFM that prohibited doctors from establishing any link with companies that advertise or market discount cards. Council rules also prevented medical clinics from making promotions related to these cards. The actions undertaken by Cremesp were aimed at enforcing these provisions. The organization threatened doctors and clinics that accepted the "Everyone Card", opening investigations and ethical-disciplinary proceedings against them to apply sanctions. The evidence in the records showed that the conduct of CFM and Cremesp lasted for more than seven years and affected mainly low-income consumers, with postponed consultations, longer waiting times for service, among other consequences.