Primary care physicians may be poised to gain substantially from healthcare reform. While some physicians worry that the Affordable Care Act will lead to a decrease in compensation, primary care and family medicine doctors may actually see their income increase.
Primary care and family medicine doctors are expected to play a larger role in healthcare following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Experts estimate that healthcare reform legislation will extend coverage to 32 million individuals, dramatically increasing demand for primary care providers. On July 6, CMS issued a proposed rule that would increase Medicare payments to primary care providers in 2013. Should the proposal become final, Medicare’s payments to family physicians would go up 7%, while other primary care practitioners would see a 3% to 5% increase.
With the proposal, Medicare essentially puts its money where its mouth is. Primary care is expected to play a large role in key healthcare reform initiatives, such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) program, and the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration. It appears that CMS is prepared to incentivize physicians to practice family medicine. The proposed rule appears in the July 30 Federal Register, and CMS will accept comments until September 4. The final rule is expected before November 1. But there is even more good news for primary care providers. The Medical Group Management Association says median compensation for primary care physicians grew 5% last year to $212,840. Median primary care compensation has risen 16.7% from 2007 to 2011, which outpaced other specialized physicians. Experts estimate the trend of increasing primary care compensation will continue.
Sophia Snyder, an industry analyst for IBISWorld, says the increase in insured Americans, combined with a rebounding economy will boost primary care revenue within over next five years. Snyder also notes that, according to simple supply and demand principles, the shortage of primary care physicians will cause wages to increase. Hospitals are also recognizing the value of quality primary care physicians and are developing attractive packages designed to acquire and retain primary care providers. Such strategies include offering competitive salaries, payment bonuses and flexible schedules. Here at Barton, we are also seeing an increase in demand for family care locum tenens physicians along with very competitive rates. Steve Messinger, partner at the healthcare consulting firm ECG, says primary care physicians’ two top priorities are fair compensation and flexibility of their schedule.
A locum tenens career through Barton Associates meets both of those criteria, offering competitive rates, flexibility, and freedom from bureaucracy that comes with a permanent position. Now is a great time for primary care providers who have been considering a locums career to give it a shot. With primary care providers in such demand, we have a wide array of high-paying assignments available. In short, it’s a great time to be in family practice!