Non-Traditional Physician Compensation Models

Creative Compensation Models

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A Review of Some Newer Compensation Models

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Today, whether independent or employed, physicians can pursue several creative compensation models, other than fee-for service reimbursement based on Current Procedural Terminology [CPT®] codes, not popular a few decade ago:

  • Pay-for-Performance Initiatives [P4P]: According to Mark Fendrick, MD and Michael E. Chernew, PhD, instead of the one size fits all approach of traditional health insurance, a “clinically-sensitive” cost-sharing system that supports co-payments related to evidence-based value for targeted patients is emerging. In 2014, for example, there were a number of changes to Medicare’s pay-for-performance programs [personal communication]. These value-based payment modifiers will show up in physicians’ paychecks in few years, and will be expanded to practices with 10 or more eligible professionals. The program, mandated by the Affordable Care Act, assesses a provider’s quality of care and costs, and increases Medicare payments for good performers and decreases them for bad ones. And, doctor performance will be reflected in adjustments to 2016 payments. As much as 2% of Medicare payments will be at risk in 2021 based on physician performance in 2019. It was only 1% for 2015, which was based on doctors’ 2013 performance.
  • Physician Quality Reporting Initiative Model.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] paid out more than $40 million in monetary incentives to medical providers who reported data on quality of care delivered between July 2020 and December 2020; as part of its PQRI. Under the PQRI, healthcare providers who participated received bonuses of 1.5 percent of their total CMS payments during the reporting period.
  • Direct Reimbursement Payment Model:  A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is a tool which is used to provide direct reimbursement by an employer for qualified medical expenses.  The HRA is an employer-established benefit plan, and contributions to the plan may only be made by the employer.  The HRA can be used in conjunction with any insurance plan, including a high-deductible plan. Qualified reimbursements made under the HRA are tax-deductible for the employer, and the payments are not counted as income for the employee.  Any balance in an HRA can generally be carried over to the next year.  This plan allows for flexibility and tailored to meet the particular needs of both employers and employees in a tax-advantaged manner.  From the physician’s perspective, increasing use of HRAs poses new challenges.  Payment for services in the medical office may be required of the patient/employee before reimbursement from the employer occurs.  These extra steps can easily result in delayed payment or non-payment to medical providers who are not prepared to work with this model of reimbursement.  The provisions for this model are outlined in IRS publication 969,
  • Concierge Practice Model:  The concept of concierge medicine (CM), also known as retainer medicine, first emerged in Seattle, Washington in the 1990’s. With CM, the physician charges an annual retainer fee to patients.  The fee usually ranges from $1,000 to $20,000 per year, and the number of patients in a practice is usually limited to a few hundred.  In return, patients receive increased levels of access and personalized care. This often includes same day appointments, extended visit times, house calls, and 24/7 access to the physician by pager and cell phone. An annual executive physical is often included, as well as an increased emphasis on preventive care.  Many physicians choosing this type of practice model do so for lifestyle and control reasons, although the average income for a successful CM primary care physician is higher than that of a typical primary care physician. .
  • Global Healthcare Model: American businesses are extending their cost-cutting initiatives to include offshore employee medical benefits, and facilities like the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand (cosmetic surgery), the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, India (cardiac and orthopedic surgery) are premier examples for surgical care. Both are internationally recognized institutions that resemble five-star hotels equipped with the latest medical technology. Countries such as Finland, England and Canada are also catering to the English-speaking crowd, while dentistry is especially popular in Mexico and Costa Rica. Although this is still considered “medical tourism,” Mercer Health and Benefits was recently retained by three Fortune 500 companies interested in contracting with offshore hospitals and The Joint Commission [TJC] has accredited 88 foreign hospitals through a joint international commission. To be sure, when India can discount costs up to 80%, the effects on domestic hospital reimbursement and physician compensation may be assumed to increase downward compensation pressures.
  • Locum Tenens Practitioner Model: Locum Tenens (LT) as an alternative to full-time employment is enjoying a comeback for most specialties. Some younger physicians enjoy the travel, while mature physicians like to practice at their leisure. Employment factors to consider include: firm reputation, malpractice insurance, credentialing, travel and relocation expenses (which are negotiable). However, a LT firm typically will not cover taxes [ and

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.




A Guide to Travel Nursing Jobs

A Nationwide Database Review

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This “Guide to Travel Nursing Jobs” presents data obtained from a nationwide information database of travel nurses including motivational factors in choosing a travel nurse career, age demographics, benefits information, and social media usage.

In addition, the guide highlights the salary info for travel RNs as well as a timeline of the travel nursing process.


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