The physician shortage is driving demand for family medicine physicians, which in turn is driving up salaries, according to The 2014 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives.
For the eighth year in a row, family medicine physicians were the most requested recruiting assignments for Merritt Hawkins. The second and third most requested specialties, internal medicine and hospitalist, are also under the primary care umbrella.
The increasing demand for family medicine providers is driving an increase in salaries. The average salary offered family medicine physicians is $199,000 in 2014, which is a 7.6% increase over the 2013 average, $185,000. Here at Barton, we have seen an increase in hourly rates for locum tenens family medicine physicians as well.
In addition to strong demand for family medicine physicians, the types of settings that are in the market for those providers could also be driving salaries.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the requests Merritt Hawkins received were for hospital-employed positions. Compare that to 2004 where only 20% of requests were for positions in that setting. Furthermore, fewer than 10% of requests were for private practice, a setting that represented 45% only 10 years ago.
Hospitals and health systems typically have bigger budgets and can offer family medicine physicians bigger salaries than a private practice. Having more of these settings interested in family medicine providers can certainly be the reason for the uptick in salaries.
As more insured patients enter the healthcare system via the Affordable Care Act, demand for family medicine physicians will continue to rise, and presumably so will salaries. However, Merritt Hawkins mentions in its report that facilities have not yet ramped up their recruiting efforts and are waiting to see how insurance enrollment impacts physician utilization.