Physician Earnings: Modest Increase but Frustration Remains

Carol Peckham


April 21, 2015

In This Article


This year, almost 20,000 physicians in 26 specialties participated in the Medscape compensation survey. They reported their compensation, number of hours worked, practice changes resulting from healthcare reform, and how they have adapted to the new healthcare environment. The good news: Primary care and almost all specialties saw at least a modest increase in compensation. And in 17 of 26 specialties, at least 60% of respondents said they would choose a career in medicine again. However, morale continues to be an issue for physicians, who are frustrated with the myriad changes in healthcare and an uncertain future.

Given the upheavals in healthcare over the past few years, the financial climate for physicians remains unclear, and responses in this Medscape survey reflect those concerns. The 2015 report continues to track disparities in earnings and career choices between males and females, among different physician groups, and in different regions. The transition from standard fee-for-service to the various pay-for-performance payment models is a major challenge and cause of physician unhappiness.

In addition, a number of factors in 2015 might negatively affect upcoming compensation, including the end of ACO shared savings programs, competing retail clinics, meaningful use penalties, payment-reporting websites, and changes in CPT codes.[1] Finally, the American Medical Association has warned that the "'regulatory tsunami' facing US physicians could cut Medicare payments by more than 13% by the end of the decade."[2]


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