Primary care doctors deserve a raise, says one family physician.
And that’s not just because the income gap over a lifetime between primary care doctors and subspecialists is a whopping $3.5 million, writes Natasha Bhuyan, M.D., a Phoenix doctor, in a blog post for the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Fresh Perspectives.
“Investing in primary care would do more than give primary care physicians a salary raise,” she says.
Bhuyan points out several benefits of improving payments to primary care practices. She says it will:
Decrease overall healthcare costs. Studies have shown primary care doctors can lower those costs by decreasing hospitalizations, emergency room visits and surgeries. “If primary care physicians were paid what we are worth, there would be more of us to continue driving down overall costs,” she says.
Modernize healthcare delivery. With an increase in payments, family physicians won’t have to worry about uncompensated care in evolved value-based payment models that emphasize keeping patients healthy.
Improve quality. Primary care doctors are focused on improving patients’ quality of life. Compared to subspecialists, primary care doctors achieve similar health outcomes with fewer office visits, a lower percentage of tests per visit and lower hospitalization rates, Bhuyan says.