Physician compensation up; more choose employment; but self-employed earn more

April 29, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Workforce Professional Development & Education 

Physician compensation was up modestly for 2014, according to the annual Medscape.com survey, released last week. The survey showed that physicians were more inclined to pursue employment in a medical group, hospital or clinic setting than to be self-employed. However, this year's report shows those physicians who are self-employed (32 percent) earn significantly more than those employed (63 percent). On average, self-employed primary care physicians (PCP) earn$212,000 compared with their employed counterparts ($189,000), and self-employed specialists, on average, earn $329,000 compared to employed specialists ($258,000). In its fifth year, Medscape's survey looked at more than 19,500 physicians across 26 specialties.

Physician participation in different payment models also continued to evolve. While concierge and cash-only practice models remained a tiny portion of the market (3 percent and 6 percent, respectively), participation in accountable care organizations (ACO) continued to rise dramatically – growing from 3 percent in 2011 to 30 percent in this year's report, with another 7 percent reporting that they plan to join an ACO during 2015.

Findings show specialists continuing to outpace PCPs in earnings, with the average annual income for PCPs at $195,000, compared to $284,000 for specialists. Specialties with the highest average patient care incomes are orthopedists ($421,000), cardiologists ($376,000) and gastroenterologists ($370,000).

The lowest earners are pediatricians ($189,000), family physicians ($195,000), endocrinologists and internists (both at $196,000). In comparison to last year, only rheumatologists experienced any large decrease in income (4 percent). Urologists were the only other specialists to see a decline, but by only 1 percent. All other physicians reported a compensation increase, with greatest pay increases among infectious disease physicians (22 percent), pulmonologists (15 percent) and emergency medicine physicians and pathologists (both 12 percent).  Family physicians also saw a 10 percent increase in compensation.

To view the rest of the survey, click here.


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