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    Dr. Marcinko is originally from Loyola University MD, Temple University in Philadelphia and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in PA; as well as Oglethorpe University and Emory University in Georgia, the Atlanta Hospital & Medical Center; Kellogg-Keller Graduate School of Business and Management in Chicago, and the Aachen City University Hospital, Koln-Germany. He became one of the most innovative global thought leaders in medical business entrepreneurship today by leveraging and adding value with strategies to grow revenues and EBITDA while reducing non-essential expenditures and improving dated operational in-efficiencies.

    Professor David Marcinko was a board certified surgical fellow, hospital medical staff President, public and population health advocate, and Chief Executive & Education Officer with more than 425 published papers; 5,150 op-ed pieces and over 135+ domestic / international presentations to his credit; including the top ten [10] biggest drug, DME and pharmaceutical companies and financial services firms in the nation. He is also a best-selling Amazon author with 30 published academic text books in four languages [National Institute of Health, Library of Congress and Library of Medicine].

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Compensation Trend Data Sources


By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Editor-in-Chief] www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Related chapters: Chapter 27: Salary Compensation and Chapter 29: Concierge Medicine and Chapter 30: Practice Value-Worth





Physician compensation is a contentious issue and often much fodder for public scrutiny. Throw modern pay for performance [P4P], and related metrics, into the mix and few situations produce the same level of emotion as doctors fighting over wages, salary and other forms of reimbursement.

This situation often springs from a failure of both sides to understand mutual compensation terms-of-art when the remuneration deal was first negotiated. This physician salary and compensation information is thus offered as a reference point for further investigations.


More than a decade ago, Fortune magazine carried the headline “When Six Figured Incomes Aren’t Enough. Now Doctors Want a Union.” To the man in the street, it was just a matter of the rich getting richer. The sentiment was quantified in the March 31, 2005 issue of Physician’s Money Digest when Greg Kelly and I reported that a 47-y.o. doctor with 184,000 dollars in annual income would need about 5.5 million dollars for retirement at age.

Of course, physicians were not complaining back then under the traditional fee-for-service system; the imbroglio only began when managed care adversely impacted income and the stock market crashed in 2008.

Today, the situation is vastly different as medical professionals struggle to maintain adequate income levels. Rightly or wrongly, the public has little sympathy for affluent doctors following healthcare reform. While a few specialties flourish, others, such as primary care, barely move.

In the words of colleague Atul Gawande, MD, a surgeon and author from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “Doctors quickly learn that how much they make has little to do with how good they are. It largely depends on how they handle the business side of practice.”  And so, it is critical to understand contemporary thoughts on physician compensation and related trends.

Compensation Trend Data Sources

A growing number of surveys measure physician compensation, encompassing a varying depth of analysis. Physician compensation data, divided by specialty and subspecialty, is central to a range of consulting activities including practice assessments and valuations of medical entities. It may be used as a benchmarking tool, allowing the physician executive or consultant to compare a practitioner’s earnings with national and local averages.

The Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA’s) annual Physician Compensation and Production Correlations Survey is a particularly well-known source of this data in the valuation community. Other information sources include Merritt Hawkins and Associates; and the annual the Health Care Group’s, [www.theHealthCareGroup.com] Goodwill Registry.


Portfolio analysis



However, all sources are fluid and should be taken with a grain of statistical skepticism, and users are urged to seek out as much data as possible and assess all available information in order to determine a compensation amount that may be reasonably expected for a comparable specialty situation. And, realize that net income is defined as salary after practice expenses but before payment of personal income taxes.


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Are Today’s Doctors Desperate?

Emotions Rise with Healthcare Reform

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™


Managed care is a prospective payment method where medical care is delivered regardless of the quantity or frequency of service, for a fixed payment, in the aggregate. It is not traditional fee-for-service medicine or the individual personal care of the past, but is essentially utilitarian in nature and collective in intent. Will new-age healthcare reform be even more draconian?

Unhappy Physicians

There are many reasons why doctors are professionally and financially unhappy, some might even say desperate, because of managed care; not to mention the specter of healthcare reform from the Obama administration. For example:

  • A staggering medical student loan debt burden of $100,000-250,000 is not unusual for new practitioners. The federal Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) program reported that for the Year 2000, it squeezed significant repayment settlements from its Top 5 list of deadbeat doctor debtors. This included a $303,000 settlement from a New York dentist, $186,000 from a Florida osteopath, $158,000 from a New Jersey podiatrist, $128,000 from a Virginia podiatrist, and $120,000 from a Virginia dentist. The agency also excluded 303 practitioners from Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare programs and had their cases referred for nonpayment of debt.
  • Because of the flagging economy, medical school applications nationwide have risen. “Previously, there were a lot of different opportunities out there for young bright people”; according to Rachel Pentin-Maki; RN, MHA”; not so today. In fact, Physicians Practice Digest recently stated, “Medicine is fast becoming a job in which you work like a slave, eke out a middle class existence, and have patients, malpractice insurers, and payers questioning your motives.” Remarkably, the Cornell University School of Continuing Education has designed a program to give prospective medical school students a real-world peek, both good and bad.

The Ripple Effects of Managed Care and Reform

“Many people who are currently making a great effort and investment to become doctors may be heading for a role and a way of life that are fundamentally different from what they expect and desire,” according to Stephen Scheidt, MD, director of the $1,000 Cornell fee program; why?

  • Fewer fee-for-service patients and more discounted patients.
  • More paperwork and scrutiny of decisions with lost independence and morale.
  • Reputation equivalency (i.e., all doctors in the plan must be good), or commoditization (i.e., a doctor is a doctor is a doctor).
  • The provider is at risk for (a) utilization and acuity, (b) actuarial accuracy, (c) cost of delivering medical care, and (d) adverse patient selection.
  • Practice costs are increasing beyond the core rate of inflation.
  • Medicare reimbursements are continually cut.

Mad Obama

Early Opinions

Richard Corlin MD, opined back in 2002 that “these are circumstances that cannot continue because we are going to see medical groups disappearing.” Furthermore, he stated, “This is an emergency that lawmakers have to address.” Such cuts also stand to hurt physicians with private payers since commercial insurers often tie their reimbursement schedules to Medicare’s resources. “That’s the ripple effect here,” says Anders Gilberg, the Washington lobbyist for the Medical Group Management Associations (MGMA).


And so, some desperate doctors are pursing these sources of relief, among many others:

  • A growing number of doctors are abandoning traditional medicine to start “boutique” practices that are restricted to patients who pay an annual retainer of $1,500 and up for preferred services and special attention. Franchises for the model are also available.
  • Regardless of location, the profession of medicine is no longer ego-enhancing or satisfying; some MDs retire early or leave the profession all together. Few recommend it, as a career anymore.


To compound the situation, it is well known that doctors are notoriously poor investors and do not attend to their own personal financial well being, as they expertly minister to their patients’ physical illnesses.


And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Tell us what you think? Are you a desperate doctor? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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  1. www.managedcaremagazine.com/archives/9809/9809/.qna_dickey.shtml
  2. www.hrsa.dhhs.gov/news-pa/heal.htm
  3. www.bhpr.hrsa.gov/dsa/sfag/health-professions/bk1prt4.htm
  4. Pamela L. Moore, “Can We All Just Get Along: Bridging the Generation Gap, Physicians Practice Digest (May/June 2001).


Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™


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