MGMA: Physician compensation varies greatly based on practice, rank

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Compensations between specialty care physicians and primary care physicians (PCPs) differ by $80,369. Between 2008 and 2009, compensation rates for physicians overall slowed and pay rates varied depending on geographic location, faculty rank and type of facility, based on a report published April 5 by Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

From 2008 to2009, pay rates for PCPs and specialty physicians increased by only 2.9 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

By comparison, the slow in compensations came as a surprise compared to the 16.9 percent swell seen between 2005 and 2009 for PCPs in an academic setting. During the same period, payment rates for specialty physicians rose 20.8 percent.

“The private practicing physician typically produces more patient care revenue than the academic physician, whose role also includes teaching, research and other administrative efforts,” said Billy Newton, vice dean for finance and resource planning at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

Additionally, compensations for physicians of internal medicine, family practitioners, cardiologists and neurologists increased by 4.4, 0.42, 7.2 and 2.5 percent, respectively, between 2008 and 2009.

The MGMA reported that the variant compensation levels were due to specific factors, including geographic location. The Midwest saw the largest increase in pay, a 6.7 percent increase, while physicians in the far Western U.S. reported declines of 2.1 percent.

Additionally, while department chairs reported that their pay rates inflated by 13.8 percent since 2008, assistant medical professors and professors reported a drop in pay by 0.09 percent and 0.07 percent, respectively, according to the report.

“The economics of academic medicine are that teaching and research activities are not reimbursed in the same manner as in clinical practice,” explained Newton.

The MGMA said results of the survey are based on voluntary participation by MGMA members, including professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices.