Physicians' Income on a Steady Decline

Physician's Money Digest, January 2007, Volume 14, Issue 1

You may unfortunately already be aware that physicians' earnings are diminishing. According to MarketWatch, a report by the Center for Studying Health System Change, found that between 1995 and 2003 the net income for physicians fell nearly 7% (adjusted for inflation), with primary care doctors experiencing a plunge of 10%. The study speculates that major contributors to the earnings downturn include flat or declining Medicare reimbursements and payments from private health insurers. Experts believe that the decline in income can lead to a perilous shortage of physicians, especially primary care and family physicians, as graduating medical students seek more profitable specialties to enter. Medicare payment rate increases for physician services rose 13% from 1995 to 2003, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is considering updating physician payment rates, based on input from physicians' groups on what it takes to perform a particular procedure.