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Physicians in private practice drops to 46.7%

The number of physicians in private practice dropped 13 percentage points over the last decade while the number of physicians working in practices with at least some hospital or health system ownership jumped 8 percentage points, according to a new report from the American Medical Association.

The AMA collected data through its Physician Practice Benchmark Survey and found 80 percent of physicians said one of the most important reasons for selling their practice to a hospital or health system was to negotiate more favorable rates with payers. The physicians also said they needed access to more costly resources to manage payers' regulatory and administrative requirements, according to the report.

In 2022 the percentage of physicians in private practice fell to 46.7 percent and now just 44 percent of physicians are self-employed. The share of self-employed physicians under the age of 45 years old declined by 13 percentage points from 2012 to 2022, hitting 31.7 percent last year.

Hospitals and health systems aren't the only physician practice buyers increasing market share; last year around 4.5 percent of physicians worked in practices owned by private equity firms.

"The AMA analysis shows the shift away from independent practices is emblematic of the fiscal uncertainty and economic stress many physicians face due to statutory payment cuts in Medicare, rising practice costs and intrusive administrative burdens," said Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, president of the AMA.

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