Physician Debt and Net Worth: Moving in the Right Direction?

Dennis G. Murray, MA


April 20, 2016

In This Article

Doctors Are Prudent With Their Money

The image of the doctor who spends lavishly and racks up huge credit card debt is very likely a stereotype. According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2016, which also asked physicians about their debts and net worth, a majority of physicians said they live below or at their means, and most have healthy retirement account balances.

Our latest report, which detailed doctors' spending habits and levels of debt in 2015, produced some interesting highlights:

  • Urologists, plastic surgeons, and dermatologists had the largest percentage of physicians with a net worth of over $5 million. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 urologists has topped that mark. Family physicians, psychiatrists, and neurologists had the lowest percentages of doctors with a net worth eclipsing $5 million, at between 1% and 2%.

  • Fully 7 in 10 physicians live within (10%) or below (60%) their means. In fact, this latter group of thrifty doctors agreed that people would be surprised at how much money they really have. By contrast, roughly one fourth of survey respondents confessed to spending too much and carrying credit card balances.

  • In terms of income, about 1 in 5 (21%) female physicians say their spouse or partner earns the same as or more than they do; only 8% of male respondents replied likewise. Conversely, nearly three quarter (74%) of male doctors have a spouse or partner who earns less than them, vs barely one half (52%) of female physicians.

  • Doctors' most common debts include a mortgage and car loan payments, followed by student loans and tuition costs for their kids. Fully two thirds of physicians have a mortgage on their primary residence, a rate that's in line with national averages.

  • The investment gods smiled on doctors: Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) said they didn't experience any significant losses in the past year. The rest of our survey respondents either lost a large amount of money or assets owing to issues in their practice, bad investments (in the stock market or elsewhere), or divorce.


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