The number of self-employed healthcare providers is dropping

More healthcare providers are employed by for-profit or nonprofit organizations, and fewer practitioners are self-employed — a shift over the last 15 years that could affect annual earnings, a study published in JAMA Network Open found.

The researchers analyzed trends in self-employment and employment and assessed the gap in annual labor earnings between self-employed and employed U.S. healthcare professionals from 2001 to 2015.

They collected data on employment type and annual labor earnings across the U.S. using the 2001 to 2015 American Community Survey. The analyses included more than 175,000 self-identified healthcare providers, such as dentists, physicians, optometrists, podiatrists, chiropractors and physical therapists. The respondents were at least 30 years old and worked at least 40 weeks a year and 20 hours each week.

The researchers used median regression models to measure the gap in annual labor earnings between self-employed and employed healthcare professionals.

Between 2011 and 2015, the study authors found 25 percent of physicians were self-employed, down from 35 percent between 2001 and 2005.

The research also revealed the earnings gap between self-employed healthcare professionals and those who are employed by nonprofits or for-profits narrowed during the study period.

The study authors said more research is necessary to determine what factors are pushing the shift away from self-employment and the shrinking earnings gap between employed and self-employed healthcare professionals.

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