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Primary Care Doctors: How Valued Are They?

Authors of a recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine are unlikely to endear themselves to specialists. As reported by Reuters, and provocatively titled, Do specialist doctors make too much money?, the study gives a per-hour breakdown of how much doctors make.

I think this is a good approach, since annual salary figures do not account for the number of hours doctors work — and in the case of primary care doctors, this includes uncompensated time doing paperwork and other bureaucratic chores.

Here’s what they found:

… the lowest wages — amounting to $60.48 an hour — [were] paid to primary care physicians.

In other broad categories of practice, surgeons took home the highest average hourly wage of $92. Internal medicine and pediatric docs earned about $85 an hour, the researchers report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Looking at salaries among 41 specific subspecialties, however, they found neurologic surgery and radiation oncology to be the most lucrative at $132 and $126 per hour, respectively. These were followed by medical oncologists and plastic surgeons, both making around $114 per hour; immunologists, orthopedic surgeons and dermatologists also took in more than $100 an hour. At the low end of specialist pay, child psychiatrists and infectious disease specialists made around $67 an hour.

Of course, regular readers of [this] blog know that healthcare reform will do little to decrease the disparity. The pay raises that will be coming to primary care will be far too little to change the perception that, in the United States, specialists are more valued by far. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Despite Medicare, Primary Care Doctors Were Paid More In 2009

The Senate has further tweaked its doc fix legislation to restore the extension to six months (from June 1 through Nov. 30) and the pay raise to 2.2 percent, reports a Senate Finance Committee Republican advisor. In Northern Michigan, the doc fix can’t come soon enough, as yet more physicians contemplate not accepting any more Medicare patients. The legislation continues to see revisions in the Senate, following the U.S. House refusal to consider the doc fix as a stand-alone bill. (TwitDoc, WWTV/WWUP-TV News)

But primary care physicians saw a 2.8 percent median compensation increase in 2009, according to a Medical Group Management Association survey. MGMA attributed the rise to employers’ and payers’ increased commitment to primary care, but noted threats to Medicare payments still exist. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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