Compensation of urologists, other specialists not keeping pace with inflation

Jul 16, 2009

Increases in urologists? overall compensation did not keep up with inflation in 2008, according to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association. The same finding held true for several other physician specialties and primary care providers.

Increases in urologists’ overall compensation did not keep up with inflation in 2008, according to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association. The same finding held true for several other physician specialties and primary care providers.

Urologists’ median compensation in 2008 was $383,016, representing a 4.97% inflation-adjusted decline from the prior year. Inflation in 2008 amounted to a 3.8% increase in the U.S. Consumer Price Index. Urologists’ compensation has been generally flat since 2004 (.09% inflation-adjusted increase), according to the survey.

Overall, specialists’ compensation rose 2.19% (–1.59% when adjusted for inflation) in 2008 to a median of $339,738. Physicians in primary care compounded a history of generally flat compensation in 2008 with a reported 2% increase (–1.73% adjusted for inflation) to a median of $186,044.

"Physician practices endure tough economic challenges to stay solvent, especially these days," said William F. Jessee, MD, MGMA president and CEO. "For physicians to have a chance to hold their incomes steady, it’s vital that they pay close attention to their bottom line and benchmark their practices and compensation levels against their peers. With physician payment rates lagging behind inflation, physician practices need as many tools as possible to maintain their incomes."

The MGMA survey also found that median collections for professional charges among urologists showed a significant 7.33% inflation-adjusted decline between 2008 and 2007. Collections were down for specialists as a whole during the period. This, according to MGMA, may signal the leading edge of the economic downturn in 2008, demonstrating the trend of patients electing to postpone care.