Compensation Issues

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Harvard study: Black male physicians earn much less than white counterparts

Although black and white female physicians earn similar incomes, a substantial wage gap exists between black and white male physicians, according to recent study published by The BMJ.

Researchers from Boston-based Harvard Medical School analyzed data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey and physician surveys from the Center for Studying Health System Change. In the ACS survey, they found black male physicians' mean annual income was $210,000 while white male physicians earned roughly 22 percent more, or $255,383 on average.

The HSC surveys showed just 27.3 percent of white male physicians earned $150,000 or less, while 40.8 percent of black male physicians did. Meanwhile, a much larger portion of white male physicians (30.9 percent) made more than $250,000 compared to black male physicians (18.3 percent).

However, the researchers note that pay disparities by physician gender are much larger than the race wage gap. Black female physicians earned a mean annual income of $166,833 and white female physicians earned a mean annual income of $174,106, according to the ACS survey. Even when comparing by gender within the same race, a disparity exists. That gap is more than $43,000 between black male and female physicians and more than $81,000 for white male and female physicians. Based on the HSC surveys, the percentage of black and white female physicians who earned less than $150,000 annual was much higher than their male counterparts, at 58.8 percent and 59.4 percent respectively. Female physicians were also less likely to earn more than $250,000 — just 9.6 percent of white and 7.3 percent of black female physicians did.

Physician compensation fluctuates based on a handful of variables like specialty, hours worked and payer mix. The researchers noted in both surveys the white male physicians tended to be the oldest or have the most years of practice. The HSC survey noted black male physicians were more likely to run solo practices, while white males worked in group practices. They also found white males had the most favorable Medicare to Medicaid payment ratio and were also more likely to be in medical or surgical specialties, both factors that could translate to higher income.

Yet even when researchers adjusted salaries for specialty, hours worked, practice characteristics, payer mix and geographic location, the wage gap remained between white and black male physicians.

 

More articles on compensation:

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