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What is the difference between an IPA and a medical group?

Medical Staff Legal Advisor, June 2, 2004

IPA, which stands for independent practice association, is an organization usually established primarily to contract with third party payers. It is a legal vehicle developed to allow physicians who have no other corporate or legal relationship (hence the term "independent") to constitute themselves as a group for contracting purposes. Some IPAs also expanded their functions to provide MSO (medical services organization) functions, though this was most often not their primary charge

A medical group is a collection of physicians who have come together contractually or in partnership for the purposes of managing a practice and sharing the care of patients. Once they have established themselves as a legal entity, the medical group can also contract with third party payers.