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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Doctor Salaries: What They Earned in 2013

Satisfaction With Compensation Has Not Changed Much

In 2013, 50% of all doctors said they felt fairly compensated. The figure for primary care doctors is 48%. These figures are very close to the 2011 report percentages, in which 48% of all doctors felt fairly compensated, and 51% of primary care doctors felt that way.

The specialties that feel the most fairly compensated are dermatology (64%), emergency medicine (61%), pathology (59%), and psychiatry (59%). Family medicine (50%) and internal medicine (46%) score around the middle of the pack. Least satisfied with their compensation are plastic surgeons (37%), pulmonologists (39%), neurologists (41%), and endocrinologists (41%).

Extra Services Are Still Popular for Bringing in More Income

The specialties that most frequently offer extra services are orthopedics (33%), anesthesiology (31%), and gastroenterology (28%). In primary care, about 23% of family doctors and 20% of internists are offering extra services.

Discussing Treatment Costs With Patients

Cost is a huge factor in treating patients -- in some specialties more than others. Still, particularly in large health systems, treatment costs are most likely to be discussed with the billing staff rather than with the doctor.

Overall, in Medscape's 2014 survey report, 32% of doctors regularly discuss the cost of treatment with patients; 40% discuss it if the patient brings it up. Only 19% of surgeons regularly discuss the cost of procedures with patients, while 41% of eye doctors have this discussion regularly.

Paperwork Takes Up a Huge Chunk of Time

Not unexpectedly, self-employed doctors spend more time on paperwork than do employed doctors. About 29% of self-employed doctors say they spend from 1 to 4 hours on paperwork per week, compared with 24% of employed doctors. And 31% of self-employed doctors say they spend 5 to 9 hours on paperwork vs. 28% of employed doctors.

Time Spent With the Patient

The amount of time spent with the patient has not changed significantly in the past few years. Comparing 2010 and 2013:

  • See patients for 13 to 16 minutes: 21% in 2010, 29% in 2013
  • See patients for 9 to 12 minutes: 16% in 2010, 18% in 2013
  • See patients for 17 to 20 minutes: 17% in 2010, 25% in 2013
  • See patients for 25 minutes or more: 15% in 2010, 13% in 2013

Despite the frustrations, most doctors find their careers deeply rewarding. Being good at their jobs, having good relationships with patients, and making the world a better place were cited as key factors in making the practice of medicine worth the effort.

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