The industry experts are witnessing compensation levels almost the same as last year; however, some specialties have witnessed a significant boost in their income. Technical and scientific breakthroughs helped these specialties gain more income, for instance, cardiology earnings increased due to the development of cardiac stents.
Highest Earning Specialties:
Orthopedics and Cardiology have been the top two highest earning specialties in the first quarter of 2014. The third spot was grabbed by Gastroenterology and Urology.
Oncologists also witnessed the largest average pay increase in 2014. Their earning grew by 5.6% and reached $395,896. It is being speculated that this increase was due to the high compensation packages developed by hospitals to hire oncologists.
The largest drop in income was witnessed by radiation oncologists. Even though their income reduced from $479,917 to $441,602, they still managed to be the fourth highest paid specialty in the first quarter of 2014. This reduction in income might have been the result of a drop in patient volumes for radiation oncologists. For instance, emergence of new technologies has led to a drop in number of sessions required for intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
Lowest Earning Specialties:
Pediatricians and family physicians were the lowest earners in the first quarter of 2014. Family physicians were the only primary care specialists who witnessed an average increase of less than 0.4%. Pediatricians had seen an average increase of 3.6% in 2013; however, their income reduced by 1% in 2014. Even internists reported a loss of 0.3% this year with their income falling to $231,533.
Special Increase in Earnings:
There has been a significant increase in the compensation for physicians who perform procedures as compared to the physicians who manage chronic illnesses. Self-employed doctors earned more in 2014 compared to the doctors employed in hospitals. Considering the impact of Affordable Care Act (ACA) on reimbursement, some primary care physicians (PCPs) also witnessed a slight increase in their earnings. This surge in salary was attributed to the shortage of PCPs and their increased demand for implementation of ACA.
Physician Earnings According to Regions:
Around 19 medical specialties witnessed increase in compensation in 2013-2014. Physician earnings also varied from region to region, ranging from $239,000 in the Northeast to $258,000 in the Great Lakes.
As per the national data, physicians living in the North Central and Great Lakes regions are the highest earners in the US whereas, the lowest earners are from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. As per a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, primary care practitioners based in rural areas earn more than those who practice in cities.
Competition and high population concentration are the two likely factors that have contributed in the low earnings for providers in the Northeast region. Rural PCPs have higher earnings due to less competition in small communities. Practices and hospitals in the rural areas offer high pay packages in order to attract physicians.
The income trend has been flat due to various reasons including slow transition from volume to value-based payment model, sluggish economy, EHR implementation challenges and growing physician employment.