Fewer Dollars for Primary Care

Word on Health has learned that disparities in healthcare don’t just apply to patients.

According to a new national study of physicians’ salaries, Primary Care Physicians (PCP’s) earn as little as half of what some specialty physicians do.  Conducted by the University of California Davis School of Medicine, the research examined salary differences across medical specialties in 2004-2005.

Investigators collected detailed salary information from more than 6,000 practicing physicians in the U.S.  Overall, the average annual income of physicians was $187,857; but that number varied widely from specialty to specialty.  The study’s analysis of broad categories of specialty showed that compared to wages for primary care, wages were 48% higher for surgery, 36% higher for internal medicine, and 45% higher for pediatric care.

The study estimates the average hourly wages paid to PCP’s amounts to $60.48.  The amount is surprising when compared to more lucrative specialties: neurologic surgery ($132/hour), radiation oncology ($126/hour), and plastic surgery (($114/hour).  Among the low-earning specialists were child psychiatrists and infectious disease specialists, both earning close to $67/hour.

The disparities in pay held after accounting for age, race, and region.  However, researchers did find that a gender salary gap remained, with women earning $9 less per hour than male counterparts.

In quantifying wage disparities between primary care and specialty care, this study will be important in the shaping of health care reform.  Reformers will likely lean heavily on this study when considering any changes to the pay structure for primary care and specialty care.

Whatever their salary scale, if you are looking to reach physicians with educational or marketing messages, SRxA is here to help.

Contact us today to see how our team of Clinical Advisors can help you disseminate your message.