Blog | Tuesday, April 30, 2013

QD: News Every Day--Internal medicine sees increased mean earnings over last year

Internal medicine specialists earned a mean of $185,000 last year, a 9% increase created by the shortage of primary care practitioners and the results of health care reform boosting payments for Medicare patients, a report said.

Medscape's Physician Compensation Report: 2013, represents data from nearly 22,000 physicians collected in February 2013.

Physician income is rising overall, with one-third of specialties surveyed earning more than $300,000 annually. This year's three top-earning specialties were orthopedics ($405,000), cardiology ($357,000) and radiology ($349,000).

Overall, men earn 30% more than women; in primary care that gap is 17%. The gap varies by specialty but narrows when physicians work set hours in large health systems.

This year 24% of respondents were either in an ACO or plan to join one, compared to 8% last year.

Physicians working in hospitals earned a mean of $260,000, compared with $225,000 in last year's report, and the income of solo practitioners ($216,000) has declined and is lower than that of employed physicians, who experienced an increase in income ($220,000).

Still, satisfied with compensation is rising for primary care physicians, 51% this year compared to 46% last year and 49% in 2011.

The percentage of physicians in a concierge or cash-only practice increased from 4% to 6%, and 20% of internists offer ancillary services to create cash flow in their practices.

Also among the findings:
--18% of all doctors (22% of internists) spent more than 50 hours a week seeing patients.
--9% of all respondents (and 11% of internists) plan to stop taking new Medicare patients but will continue caring for their current ones, while 2% will no longer treat even their current Medicare patients.
--23% of all physicians will drop insurers who don't reimburse well, while 18% said that dropping poor-paying insurers is not appropriate behavior, and 20% said that they need all payers.
--More primary care physicians would not choose their specialty again compared to some subspecialists. Among internists 19% would not do so, compared to 25% who said last year that they would not.

A second survey, the MGMA Physician Placement Starting Salary Survey: 2013 Report Based on 2012 Data, reported that primary care physicians reported $180,000 in median first-year guaranteed compensation, up from $175,000 in 2011. Practices are increasingly offering signing bonuses, relocation expenses, even additional vacation time, likely to attract new physicians during a shortage of primary care providers.