MGMA: Primary care physicians report slight pay increase in 2009

Dermatologists and ophthalmologists fare well; OB/GYN and cardiology report declines in compensation

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., June 22, 2010 – Physicians in primary care specialties experienced a 2.8 percent increase in their median compensation in 2009, according to the new Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Physician Compensation and Production Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data. Their counterparts in specialty care continued to receive higher overall compensation levels but reported mixed movement in 2009. Some specialists felt the effects of the recession and other factors, while others showed increased income.

Physicians in obstetrics/gynecology, invasive cardiology and hematology/oncology were among specialists who reported flat or declining incomes. Physicians in OB/GYN posted a 1.1 percent decline in total median compensation in 2009, while invasive cardiologists posted a .2 percent decrease. Physicians in hematology/oncology – who have experienced declining revenues in their practices as a result of reduced reimbursement for administering drugs – reported compensation levels that compounded several years of overall flat compensation. Their compensation has increased just 2.2 percent overall since 2005.

Conversely, physicians in dermatology posted a 12.2 percent increase in compensation in MGMA's report, adding to steady increases in compensation over the past several years. This may be due in part to dermatologists' ability to offer elective procedures not covered by insurance and to collect the full fee for them at the time of service.  An increase in demand for dermatology services may also have driven up their compensation. Ophthalmologists reported a 7.7 percent increase in 2009 as laser refractive surgery and other non-covered services became increasingly popular.

"Despite a convergence of economic factors, employers' and payers' increased commitment to preserve the ability of primary care physicians to do their important work has allowed their compensation to keep pace with inflation," said William F. Jessee, MD, FACMPE, president and CEO of MGMA. "However, the continued threat of cuts to Medicare payments and its impact on private insurance reimbursement to all physicians impedes practices' ability to deliver quality care to an ever expanding patient population."

For more than 25 years, MGMA's Physician Compensation and Production Survey Report has been one of the most respected benchmarking reports in the industry. It offers detailed information, rigorous in-house data validation and analysis. This year's report provides data on nearly 60,000 providers – the largest provider population of any physician compensation survey in the United States. The 2010 report includes data for physicians and nonphysician providers in more than 110 specialties, including new Health and Human Services (HHS) Region compensation data; hospitalist: internal medicine-pediatric information and physician production (pay and pay-for-production by quartile of productivity) analysis for neurology and pediatrics. MGMA is offering users a virtual, interactive version of the data that is exportable to Excel and easier to read.

Note: MGMA surveys depend on voluntary participation and may not be representative of the industry. Readers are urged to review the entire survey report when making conclusions regarding trends or other observations.

Media representatives who require further data from the report or an editorial copy of the full report should contact MGMA Media Relations at To purchase the report, please call 877.275.646 or visit the MGMA Store.

About MGMA

MGMA is the premier membership association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices. Since 1926, MGMA has delivered networking, professional education and resources, and political advocacy for medical practice management.  Today, MGMA's 21,500 members lead 13,700 organizations nationwide in which some 275,000 physicians provide more than 40 percent of the health care services delivered in the United States.

MGMA's mission is to continually improve the performance of medical group practice professionals and the organizations they represent. MGMA promotes the group practice model as the optimal framework for health care delivery, assisting group practices in providing efficient, safe, patient-focused and affordable care. MGMA is headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and maintains a government affairs office in Washington, D.C.

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