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Will there be a physician wage price spiral?

When ordering an Uber or a Lyft, have you noticed how difficult it is to find an uber? And if you do, the price seems much higher than it did pre-COVID.

The ride-share, much like the rest of the world, industry is experiencing a massive shortage of workers. Since Uber and Lyfe prices are directly tied to driver supply, consumers found themselves forking over extra cash to hitch a ride.

Will this happen with the healthcare industry? Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, dives into the data in a recent article to discover if physicians will meet the same fate.

“When it comes to physician salaries, changes in the workforce and factors contributing to shortages might result in a wage-price spiral,” Meyers says in his article. “Physicians experienced extreme income volatility in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some doctors indicating there were months where they had no income at all.”

Statistics from the article include:

  • Average salaries for primary care physicians held steady at $242,000 from $243,000 the previous year.

  • Similarly, specialists’ average salaries dropped $2,000 to $344,000.

  • Hospital spending represented close to a third (31%) of overall health spending in 2019, and physicians/clinics represent 20% of total spending

Meyers identifies four possible stress responses, including freedom, fight, freeze and flight.

“Sickcare aint Uber,” Meyers said. “The ‘golden age’ of medical practice is being replaced by the ‘golden age’ of physician entrepreneurship.”


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