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Physician practice owners take a 6% pay cut in 2012, other incomes relatively flat, survey says


Physician practice owners took a pay cut last year, according to the results of the 85th exclusive Medical Economics Continuing Study, an annual survey that examines physician earnings.


Physician practice owners took a pay cut last year, according to the results of the 85th exclusive Medical Economics Continuing Study, an annual survey that examines physician earnings.

Average incomes for physicians with an ownership stake in practice dropped nearly 6% to $244,000 in 2012 from $260,000 in 2011, according to the data. The mean incomes for employed physicians (including some specialties) climbed to  $216,000 this year, up from $211,000 last year (2% increase).

While internal medicine posted a slight increase over last, those gains were not experienced by family physician who noted a 2% decline overall (Table, p. 23). The most significant income gains were noted for pediatrics, urologists, psychiatrists, and gynecologists. Conversely, declines were posted by physicians working in emergency and acute care, ophthalmologists, hospitalists, and cardiologists.

Some of the other survey results include:

  • Male physicians made significantly more on average (34%) than female physicians regardless of whether they were employed in a group practice or maintained an ownership position within the practice.

  • For employed physicians, the annual mean income for female physicians was $179,000 and their male colleagues brought in $240,000.  For those physicians with an ownership interest in practice, female physicians earned $195,000 compared to $263,000 for male respondents.

  • As might be expected, numbers of patient visits had a significant impact on annual income for physicians. In fact, those physicians seeing fewer than 25 patients a week made $158,000 while those seeing 150-174 patients a week pulled down $287,000 a year.

  • The survey denotes some regional differences in income (Table, p. 31), but not substantially as might be expected based on factors like cost of living, cost of care, reimbursement rates, etc.

  • One-third of physicians gained income from secondary sources. The average amount for all physicians was $53,900 with a median of $20,000.

  • The three most common sources of secondary incomes included hospitals, healthcare consulting and conducting clinical trials.

  • Men were more likely than women to gain income from secondary sources (36% compared to 27%, respectively).

  • Working more than 50 hours a week doesn’t always translate into proportionately higher wages for physicians. According to the data, median incomes for those physicians working 51-60 hours a week hovered around $213,000 ($83.50 per hour, based on 51 hours a week for 50 weeks). For physicians working 61-70 hours a week, the total median rose 11% ($25,000 a year) to $238,000 ($78 per hour, based on 61 hours per week over 50 weeks). Those physicians working 71-80 hours a week increased incomes to $263,000 at a rate of $74 per hour (71 hours a week for 50 weeks). Interestingly enough, incomes plateaued for those physicians working more than 80 hours a week and declined for those working 90 or more a week.

Here are links to some of the other stories in this 2013 report:

Flat, declining salaries inflate physician worries over payments, red tape

What primary care physicians earn: A five-year review (chart)

Primary care physician earnings by gender (chart)

Primary care physician earnings by community (chart)

Primary care physician earnings by region (chart)

Productiving in primary care is geared for a revival

Malpractice premium trends (chart)

Competition driving malpractice premiums down

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