States should ensure that their policies regarding noncompete agreements for physicians maximize access to care and allow for an open and competitive labor market that does not restrict a physician’s ability to practice medicine.

Key points

  • Although noncompete agreements may have merit in certain circumstances, they are increasingly regarded as being potentially harmful when applied to medical practice.
  • In the current era of healthcare consolidation, noncompete agreements can limit employment options and make it difficult for physicians to change employment without major disruptions to their livelihood.
  • Noncompete agreements can negatively impact access to care, limit a patient’s choice of provider and interrupt the patient–doctor relationship.
  • Through the effects they exert on physician organizational structures, noncompetes may also contribute to increased healthcare prices.