- Compensation for primary care doctors has increased by more than 10% over the past five years, nearly twice the rate for specialty physicians, according to a survey released last week by the Medical Group Management Association.
- The higher compensation is a direct response to the ongoing shortage of primary care doctors. Within primary care, family medicine physicians saw compensation rise 12% while their productivity inched up less than 1%.
- Among the carrots practices use to attract and retain doctors are higher signing bonuses, continuing medical education stipends and reimbursement of moving costs.
The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortfall of up to 121,300 physicians by 2030. In primary care, the shortage is expected to be between 14,800 and 49,000, depending on how many advanced practice nurses and physician assistants are available to help fill the void.
Factors driving the physician shortage include growth in the U.S. population and the swelling ranks of elderly, who will need more medical services to treat age-related health conditions. Also exacerbating the shortage are shorter workdays and an aging workforce — more than a third of practicing physicians will be old enough to retire within the next decade.
“[W]ith a nearly two-fold rise in median compensation for primary care physicians over their specialist counterparts and increased additional incentives, we can now see the premium organizations are placing on primary care physicians’ skills to combat this shortage,” MGMA President and CEO Halee Fischer-Wright said in a statement.
Not all doctors saw boosts in median compensation, however. In Alabama and New York, compensation for primary care physicians declined by 9% and 3%, respectively. On the high end were primary care doctors in Wyoming, where median compensation rose 41%. Other states with large increases included Maryland (29%), Louisiana (27%), Missouri (24%) and Mississippi (21%).
The state with the highest compensation is Nevada, with $309,431 in median total compensation. The District of Columbia came in last at $205,776.
The survey also shows a bump in compensation for non-physician providers, suggesting growing awareness of the role they could play in the shortage and in promoting team-based care. Overall compensation for nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other non-physician providers grew 8% in the past five years and 17% over the past decade. Today, they average a salary of $65,000 a year.