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Primary care physicians serve on the front lines of our healthcare system, providing preventative care and consultation for unwieldy patient panels, identifying potential health issues before they become problems for their patients. As one physician noted, “Primary care is . . . the unglamorous and financially unrewarding task of taking good care of patients. GPs are overworked . . . and must shuttle patients in and out of the office in less than ten minutes.”[1]

There is a current debate concerning the salary discrepancies between primary care physicians and their specialist cohort. One study showed that, given the nature of their preventative agenda, primary care physicians lower overall healthcare costs:

One primary care physician per 10,000 people can decrease hospitalizations by 5.5 percent, ER visits by 11 percent and surgeries by 7 percent. Through care coordination, we can save part of the $210 billion per year wasted on unnecessary or duplicative tests. And through providing evidence-based preventive healthcare, primary care physicians can save the U.S. healthcare system $3.7 billion researchers estimate.[2]

Additionally, a 2019 survey determined that primary care physicians, despite their ability to lower overall healthcare costs, “ranked near the bottom in terms of salary as share of the average revenue they generate.”[3]

This salary chasm is one of the reasons why graduating medical students, saddled with medical school debt, are gravitating to higher-paying specialized medicine and contributing to the diminishing number of GPs in the United States.[4]

A record-high number of primary care positions was offered in the 2019 National Resident Matching Program — known to doctors as “the Match.” It determines where medical students will study in their chosen specialty after graduation. But this year, the percentage of primary care positions filled by fourth-year medical students was the lowest on record.

“I think part of it has to do with income,” said Mona Signer, chief executive of the Match. “Primary care specialties are not the highest paying.”[5]

Given the sheer size of their patient panels, the revenue general practitioners generate, and the cost savings they pass on to the healthcare system overall, primary care physicians should be paid on par with medical specialists.

We have too many specialists and too few primary care doctors because specialists are highly valued by medical institutions, even though primary care doctors are more important for good patient care.[6]

As a primary care physician, you are not beholden to today’s unforgiving business model. By transitioning to a concierge practice, a PCP can move outside the industry’s normalized inequality. A concierge practice allows the PCP to regain a sense of purpose. If you are interested in the possibilities that concierge medicine provides, please fill out the form below, and we will be in contact with you soon.

[1] Frances, A., M.D. (2016, February 17). Pay primary care doctors what they’re worth. KevinMD.com. Retrieved from https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/02/pay-primary-care-doctors-theyre-worth.html.

[2] Bhuyan, N., M.D. (2017, March 6). Primary Care Needs a Raise – All of Us. AAFP.org. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/news/blogs/freshperspectives/entry/primary_care_needs_a_raise.html.

[3] Mazzolini, C. (2019, July 1). Are primary care physicians underpaid? New study suggests the answer is yes. Medical Economics. Retrieved from https://www.medicaleconomics.com/career/are-primary-care-physicians-underpaid-new-study-suggests-answer-yes.

[4] Knight, V. (2019, July 15). America to face a shortage of primary care physicians within a decade or so. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/america-to-face-a-shortage-of-primary-care-physicians-within-a-decade-or-so/2019/07/12/0cf144d0-a27d-11e9-bd56-eac6bb02d01d_story.html.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Frances, A., M.D. (2016, February 17). Pay primary care doctors what they’re worth. KevinMD.com. Retrieved from https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/02/pay-primary-care-doctors-theyre-worth.html.