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Primary Care Pay Bump


Primary care physicians reported a large increase in median salary while radiologists (among the highest paid specialists) reported income growth that lagged.

Typically they aren’t among the highest paid of medical specialties, yet primary care physicians reported a moderate increase in compensation in 2011, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

A survey of physicians by MGMA revealed that primary care physicians reported a 5.16% increase in median compensation in 2011, according to the latest Physician Compensation and Production Survey.

Physicians in family practice (without OB) reported median earnings of $200,114, and those in pediatric/adolescent medicine earned $203,948 in median compensation. Internists also reported a 5% increase in compensation.

Primary care physicians can expect to take a bigger role as provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented over the next few years now that the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

“There appears to be a growing focus on primary care providers in anticipation of new methodologies in payment, a focus on coordination of care, and the imperative to control utilization and costs in the system,” Michael L. Nochomovitz, MD, president, University Hospitals Physician Services, Cleveland, said in a statement. “There is increasing employment of physicians by integrated delivery systems and hospitals, which may also explain these shifts in compensation for primary care physicians.”

In comparison, radiologists, who were among the highest paid last year, saw smaller increases in income growth. Anesthesiologists and psychiatrists also reported compensation increases that lagged behind other specialties. For example, psychiatrists' compensation increased 3.86% since 2010.

“The industry is moving toward a team approach in delivering care, which would include behavioral health care components,” said Nochomovitz. “But the incentives for this model of care are still limited on a national scale.”

According to MGMA’s survey, nephrologists, gynecologists and radiation oncologists reported slight decreases in compensation.

The report also revealed that physician assistants in primary care earned $92,635 in median compensation and surgical physician assistants earned $111,246 in median compensation last year.

“Nonphysician providers continue to play a pivotal role in the provision of health care services throughout the United States,” Todd Evenson, director of Data Solutions for MGMA, said in a statement. “As demand for primary care practitioners continues to increase, the market will respond by complementing the activities of physicians with the skill set of these and other professionals.”

Read more:

Gender Accounts for a $12,000 Salary Boost

U.S. Docs Paid Less Than Counterparts in Comparable Countries

Health Job Growth Slows; Doc Offices Shed Jobs

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