Primary-care docs on the short end of physician pay

Substantial differences in actual hourly and annual compensation exist across physician specialties, "with a number of specialties exhibiting compensation ratios exceeding 2:1 when compared to family medicine," according to "What if All Physician Services Were Paid Under the Medicare Fee Schedule? An Analysis Using Medical Group Management Association Data," a new report sponsored by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

The study, conducted by staff from the Urban Institute and the Medical Group Management Association Center for Research, simulated physician compensation as if all physician services were paid under the Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule and compared the results with the actual physician-reported compensation.

In the Medicare simulation, compensation ratios across specialties "narrowed very little overall," say the study authors. That result suggests that Fee Schedule payments are no more favorable to primary care than other payers' reimbursements.

However, "some specialties fare relatively well under simulated Medicare compensation. The nonsurgical, procedural specialties, particularly cardiology, continue to do relatively better under the Medicare Fee Schedule than under all-payer reimbursements that include Medicare. In contrast, surgical specialties do relatively less well under the Medicare Fee Schedule, although their compensation remains substantially greater than the primary care benchmark."

To learn more:
- read the report