Why physician pay bumps aren't enough

Physicians are earning more year over year than ever — but this does not necessarily mean they are happier about their pay than ever before.

The 10 specialties with the most salary growth in 2024 saw year-over-year pay increases between 7.2% for psychiatrists and 12.4% for hematologists, according to Doximity's Physician Compensation Report. 

Despite this growth, 35% of physicians said they were not satisfied with their current compensation, while 62% said their current pay did not reflect their level of expertise and the amount of effort required in their roles. 

According to May 12 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index, also known as inflation, increased by 3.4% in the last year. This means the 13 specialties that saw year-over-year pay increases of 3.4% or less — such as gastroenterologists, urologists and rheumatologists, all with pay increases of 2%, according to Medscape's "Physician Compensation Report" — essentially received pay cuts compared to their salaries last year. 

Further, physicians are receiving smaller reimbursements from CMS compared to last year. The beginning of 2024 marked CMS' 3.37% cut in Medicare reimbursements, only compounding the decreases faced by some providers. 

These pay discrepancies could be a factor in the increasing number of physicians who are leaving medicine or experiencing burnout, according to Cary Passik, MD, a cardiac surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, N.Y.

"The reimbursement for coronary artery bypass, the most common procedure that I perform, is now less than 1/3 of what it was when I first started in practice in 1988. And that is in 2023 dollars! When the reimbursement for coronary bypass (a routine but very complex procedure), which includes 90 days of global care, has become 1/10 of what it would cost to get your bathroom remodeled, there is something wrong with the system," Dr. Passik told Becker's

Dr. Passik suggests that governments, physicians and payers all need to collaborate to create a fair payment system in medicine.

"We need to sit down in the room each year with insurance companies and the state and federal governments and come up with reasonable and fair fees for everything that we do."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Podcast