Pay Gap Between Specialists, Primary Care Physicians Diminishing

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Between 2012 and 2013, median total cash compensation for primary care physicians rose 5.7 percent, while medical and surgical specialist compensation grew at slower rates, according to a physician compensation and productivity survey from Sullivan, Cotter and Associates.

During the same timeframe, median total cash compensation for medical and surgical specialists increased 3.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. Analysts said this difference in pay increase rates bucks the trend, as specialists usually received higher pay bumps year-over-year than primary care physicians.

"This is consistent with the ever-increasing labor market demand for primary care physicians," Kim Mobley, managing principal and national physician compensation practice leader with SullivanCotter, said in a news release. "With the expanded healthcare coverage and emphasis on preventative care, population health management and cost control, primary care physicians are in high demand as they are at the forefront of ensuring successful implementation of these initiatives."

The survey also found hospitals and practices are adjusting their physician compensation plans to include more performance-based metrics, like quality and patient satisfaction. The median amount paid for a specific quality metric in 2013 was $15,000, but that figure depends on the specialty. Primary care physicians receive an average quality payment of $7,000, while medical and surgical specialists received $20,000.

Medical and surgical specialty physicians continue to be the highest-paid, as neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and heart surgeons command at least $400,000 and as high as several million dollars. Primary care physicians are still at the top of the list for hospital recruiters, and their total compensation varies on average from $170,000 to $230,000, depending on the subspecialty and location.

More Articles on Physician Compensation:
5 Observations on Medical Oncology Compensation
10 Physician Specialties With the Highest Gross Charges
5 Steps to Determining and Assessing the Fair-Market Value of Highly Compensated Physicians

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