Primary care physicians, specialists flock to hospital jobs

Changes and uncertainty under the Affordable Care Act have private practice doctors flocking to hospitals--most notably among primary care physicians, with specialists not far behind, the New York Times reported.

Hospital job openings filled through Merritt Hawkins, a leading physician placement firm, jumped from 11 percent in 2004 to 64 percent in 2013, according to the article, a number the firm anticipates will rise to 75 percent in the next two years.

About 60 percent of family doctors and pediatricians, 50 percent of surgeons and 25 percent of surgical specialists are employees rather than independent practitioners, according to the American Medical Association, the Times reported.

When hospitals gather a good lineup of doctors and specialists under one roof, it can yield cost-efficient and coordinated patient care, according to the Times, as seen in the Kaiser Permanente system in California and Intermountain Healthcare in Utah.

For doctors and specialists, this also means no longer worrying about paying malpractice premiums or finding health insurance for their employees.

Medicare reductions for set doctors' fees over the past 10 years and increased demand from insurers to lower their rates are pushing primary care physicians toward the hospital setting, where their base salary can reach $200,000 a year. Similarly, specialists in cardiology and neurosurgery can make up to $575,000 and $663,000, respectively, based on how much income they generate for the hospital, according to the article.

For hospitals and doctors alike, the shift makes sense, considering a 2013 Merrit Hawkins report found primary care physicians generate more revenue for their hospitals than specialists--$1.57 million versus $1.42 million, respectively, FierceHealthcare previously reported.  

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- here's the article

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