Survey Shows Large Pay Gap Between Male and Female Physicians in Maryland

There is a wide pay gap between male and female physicians in Maryland – and Maryland physicians earn less on average than physicians do nationally, according to a poll commissioned by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society. Conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search and consulting firm, the survey tracked compensation, benefits and practice metrics of Maryland physicians and compared them to physicians nationally. It also tallied compensation among Maryland physicians by gender, age and practice status.  Gene Ransom, CEO of MedChi  Average annual compensation for male physicians in Maryland tracked by the survey was $335,000, compared to $224,000 for women – a difference of almost 50 percent. When compared on a specialty-by-specialty basis, male physicians also earn considerably more than female physicians, the survey found. Male family medicine physicians in Maryland earn an annual average of $243,000, compared to $164,000 for female family medicine physicians, a difference of 48 percent. Earnings disparities between male and female physicians also are significant even when number of hours worked are accounted for. For example, male internal medicine physicians working 41 hours a week or more earn more than 37 percent more than females working 41 hours a week or more, the survey indicates. “Though such disparities have been noted in other research, it is still surprising to see the extent to which they persist,” said Gene Ransom, chief executive officer with MedChi. Executives at Merritt Hawkins said it’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the wage gap. “There is little difference in the starting salaries of male and female physicians in the contracts we see,” said Jeremy Robinson, regional vice president with Merritt Hawkins. “But clearly, physician gender income disparities are real.” Meanwhile, Maryland physicians’ earnings lag behind national figures generally. Of 15 types of medical specialists tracked in the survey, 14 earn less in total compensation than the national starting salary in their specialties as tracked by Merritt Hawkins. According to Robinson, this means that physicians may be paid more to start in other states than Maryland physicians earn even after practicing for a number of years. Robinson attributes the difference in earnings to the relatively large number of physicians per capita in Maryland, low reimbursement rates in the state and the presence of managed care. Only 41 percent of Maryland physicians surveyed indicated they participate in Medicare’s new reimbursement formula, known as MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act). More than one-quarter said they do not participate, while almost one-third were unsure, reflecting continued uncertainty among physicians regarding Medicare’s new physician payment model. When asked to indicate how much of their 2017 earnings were based on quality metrics such as patient satisfaction scores, 78 percent of physicians said quality accounts for only 20 percent their compensation or less, an indicator that quality payments to physicians remain an aspirational reimbursement model. The survey data was based on responses from 508 Maryland physicians.   jkurtz@marylandmatters.org

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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