Physicians in hospital-owned practices often earn less than those who are independent, study finds

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Physician-owned practices acquired by hospitals from 2014-18 led to those physicians earning income that was 0.8 percent lower on average than those who remained independent, a December Health Affairs study found.

The study examined survey data on physician practice ownership and physician compensation data between 2014 and 2018.

During this time frame, there was an 89.2 percent increase in hospital or health system ownership of physician practices, according to the report.

Among physicians overall, there was a $2,987 decrease in annual income on average. Nonsurgical specialists saw their income drop by 2.4 percent, or $9,652 per year. Primary care physicians experienced a 1.2 percent increase in compensation, or $3,179 annually. Surgical specialists, meanwhile, saw a 2.1 percent increase, or $10,741 per year.

Physician practices acquired by hospitals also on average had lower Medicare billing than those that are independent, of $109,795 compared with $221,626. Physicians who were independent also practiced for about two more years and worked about three fewer hours per week on average.

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