Endocrinologists' Wealth Remains Steady, Despite Pandemic

Nancy A. Melville

August 13, 2021

Despite ongoing pandemic-related economic challenges, endocrinologists report stability in their overall wealth in the past year, with more than a third of the specialists having a net worth between $1 million and $5 million, according to the Medscape Endocrinologist Wealth & Debt Report 2021.

The findings regarding wealth and debt among endocrinologists, along with 28 other specialties, were reported as part of Medscape's Physician Compensation Report 2021, which included nearly 18,000 physicians.

According to the report, endocrinologists had an upswing in their income compared with the prior year, with average annual earnings of $245,000, vs $236,000 in 2020. The earnings tie them with infectious disease specialists at fourth from the bottom of the list of specialties.

In the latest report, 38% reported a net worth between $1 million to $5 million, down 1% from 39% in last year's report.

Nine percent of endocrinologists had a net worth of over $5 million, matching last year's rate.

That puts endocrinologists and rheumatologists near the middle of specialists earning more than $5 million. Dermatologists rank the highest, with 28% worth over $5 million. Allergy and immunology specialists are at the bottom of the list, with just 2%.

Joel Greenwald, MD, a wealth management advisor to physicians based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, said the reasons for the stability in wealth are multifactorial.

"The rise in home prices is certainly a factor," he said. "Definitely the rise in the stock market played a large role; the S&P 500 finished the year up over 18%.

"I've seen clients accumulate cash, which has added to their net worth," Greenwald added. "They cut back on spending because they were worried about big declines in income and also because there was simply less to spend money on [during lockdowns]."

The percentage of endocrinologists reporting a net worth below $500,000 decreased from 37% in 2020 to 31% for the current report, placing them fifth from the top of the list of specialists with a net worth below $500,000. Family medicine was at the top of the list, at 40%.

Gender Disparities in Net Worth Are Striking

The gender disparities in net worth among endocrinologists are substantial. Although only 15% of male endocrinologists have a net worth of less than $500,000, that rate is nearly three times higher ― 44% ― than that of female endocrinologists.

Twenty-seven percent of male endocrinologists have a net worth between $1 million and $2 million, compared with just 13% among women. Although 14% of men have a net worth of more than $5 million, only 4% of female endocrinologists fall in that category.

Of note, 61% of those who responded to the pole were men; 36% were women.

Expenses, Savings

Only 6% of endocrinologists reported being unable to pay their mortgage as a result of the pandemic; 8% said they were unable to pay other bills because of COVID-19.

The vast majority, however ― 91% ― said the pandemic did not affect their ability to pay bills or their mortgage. US Census Bureau data from last July show that about a quarter of adults (25.3%) missed a mortgage or rent payment because of challenges related to COVID-19.

Approximately three quarters of endocrinologists (72%) reported having not made any changes to reduce major expenses in 2020, despite the pandemic. About 25% took significant measures to reduce expenses, including refinancing their house or moving to a different home.

Seventeen percent say they are still paying off their school loans, similar to the rate last year.

The report notes that, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average medical school debt for students who graduated in 2019 was $201,490, compared with an average student loan debt for all graduating students in the same year of $28,950.

Although 65% of endocrinologists said they added the same amount to their 401(k) plan in the past year, 28% put less into their fund, and although 53% put the same amount into their taxable savings account, 23% reported not using the taxable savings accounts at all.

Although earnings were steady in the past year, 12% of endocrinologists report having losses due to practice problems, compared with 5% the previous year. COVID-19 was the most common cause. The proportion reporting no financial losses declined to 65%, vs 75% in the last report.

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