Nearly Two-thirds of Cardiologists Have Net Worth Above $1 Million

Megan Brooks

July 22, 2020

Most cardiologists live at or below their means, and nearly two-thirds have a net worth north of $1 million, according to the Medscape Cardiologist Debt and Net Worth Report 2020.

An important caveat, however, is that the data for this year's debt and net worth report were collected prior to February 11, before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, as part of the annual Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2020.

The financial picture has changed for many physicians because of COVID-19's impact on medical practices. Although it will be some time before medical practices become accustomed to a new version of normal, the data provide a picture of the debt load and net worth of cardiologists.

According to the Medscape Cardiologist Compensation Report 2020, cardiologists are among the top earners of all physicians, earning $438,000 annually on average, up somewhat from last year's average of $430,000.

Although half of all physicians have a net worth (total assets minus total liabilities) under $1 million, that percentage is lower among cardiologists (at 38%). Forty-seven percent of cardiologists report a net worth between $1 million and $5 million; 15% have net worth over $5 million.

Among other specialists, orthopedists are most likely (at 19%) to have net worth in excess of $5 million, followed by plastic surgeons and gastroenterologists (both at 16%), according to the Medscape Physician Debt and Net Worth Report 2020, which is based on more than 17,000 physicians spanning 30 specialties.

By gender, more male than female cardiologists have net worth between $1 million and $5 million (51% vs 27%), but women came out on top for having a net worth above $5 million (15% vs 18%).

As expected, the older the physicians, the more money they have, as earnings increase and early-career debt decreases. This is the case for cardiologists, as net worth over $1 million increases with age.

Cardiologists are among the least likely of all physicians to have net worth under $500,000 (at 23%). Only pulmonary medicine physicians, urologists, and gastroenterologists have fewer physicians with net worth under half a million dollars. Family medicine and pediatrics have the highest percentage of physicians worth less than $500,000 (46% and 44%, respectively).

Like other physicians, the top expense or debt for cardiologists is mortgage payments on their primary residence (58%).

About one-quarter (26%) of cardiologists have a mortgage of $300,000 or less, while 27% have a mortgage topping $500,000, and 34% don't have a mortgage. Six in 10 cardiologists live in a house that is larger than 3000 sq ft.

Mortgage aside, other top expenses or debts for cardiologists are car-loan payments (33%), car-lease payments (23%), private-school tuition for children (20%), college tuition for children (19%), credit-card debt (18%), college or medical-school loans (17%), childcare (17%), and medical expenses for self or loved one (15%).

However, when it comes to who is still paying off their college or medical school loans, cardiologists are toward the bottom of the list among all physicians (at 17%), just ahead of pulmonologists (16%), rheumatologists (15%), nephrologists (15%), and gastroenterologists (14%). 

Spender or Saver?

The average American has four credit cards, according to the credit-reporting agency Experian. A little more than half (53%) of cardiologists have four or fewer credit cards, 30% have five or six cards, and 16% have seven or more. Only 2% have no credit cards.

Only a small percentage of cardiologists (6%) say they live above their means, 50% live at their means, and 44% live below their means.

Seventy percent of cardiologists contribute more than $1000 to a tax-deferred retirement or college savings account each month,15% contribute between $501 and $1000 monthly, and 5% put in up to $500. Ten percent say they don't contribute to a tax-deferred savings account on a regular basis.

Most cardiologists (77%) also put money each month in a taxable savings account, a tool many use when tax-deferred contributions have reached their limit; 39% contribute more than $2000 monthly.

About half of cardiologists (52%) rely on a mental budget for personal expenses, while 12% rely on a written budget or use software or an app for budgeting; 35% don't have a budget for personal expenses.

Three-quarters of cardiologists (75%) did not suffer a financial loss in 2019. Of those who did, the main causes were bad investments or the stock market (10%), real-estate losses (7%), practice-related issues (6%), legal fees or a lawsuit (3%), job loss for self or spouse/partner (3%), and divorce (2%).

Among cardiologists who have joint finances with a spouse or partner, most (65%) pool their income in a common account to pay household expenses; for 9%, the person who earns more pays more of the bills and/or expenses. Only a small percentage divide bills and expenses equally, regardless of how much each person makes (4%). Twenty percent of cardiologists don't have joint finances with a spouse or partner.

Half of cardiologists currently work with a financial planner or have in the past; 32% never have, and 18% met with a financial planner but did not pursue working with that person.

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