Physician income downNews added by Benefits Pro on January 22, 2013

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By Kathryn Mayer

Personal incomes dropped among a significant minority of primary care physicians, one reason that’s causing them to reevaluate continuing their small practices, according to a survey from Physicians Practice. Almost 21 percent of survey respondents reported that their incomes dropped by more than 10 percent compared with 2011.

Information was gathered about personal income, practice overhead, practice outlook, and other financial issues from physicians in a variety of specialties—including primary care and pediatrics.

Almost 40 percent of primary care physicians and most pediatricians make less than $150,000 a year. Though seemingly a comfortable salary still, the majority—at 60 percent—pay between $15,000 and $30,000 annually for malpractice insurance. These physicians have taken steps to boost their revenues, including taking on work outside their practice.

Worse yet, almost a third of those surveyed describe their practice’s viability as “shaky,” and report that they are working harder just to maintain their income. Another third say they practice is not growing significantly. Fewer physicians than ever report being owners or partners of their own practices, as hospitals and health systems continue to seek market share through direct employment and practice ownership and smaller group practices consolidate, the report finds.

That could be especially concerning information as more experts predict an ongoing doctor shortage, further stressed by the introduction of some 30 million patients under health reform.

Conversely, income for physicians in other specialties, including OB/GYN and radiology, increased modestly in 2012. Only 29 percent of OB/GYNs and 10 percent of radiologists earn less than $150,000 annually.

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