Physicians taking steep pay cuts across the US due to COVID-19: 5 observations

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |

Healthcare providers and organizations across the board are losing income due to COVID-19, and it is affecting physician pay, even in cases where they are working on the front lines.

Here are five observations:

1. Large specialty physician groups are making significant cuts without revenue from elective procedures to sustain the business. In some cases, practices are furloughing nearly all of their employees and physicians are taking pay cuts or forgoing pay all together to keep the practice afloat until they can resume treating non-COVID-19 patients outside of telehealth visits. Michigan Hand and Spine Institute physicians took a 45 percent pay cut in early April and the 20 physician owners of private equity-backed Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Cincinnati are not taking pay to help staff during this time.

2. Due to revenue shortfalls, some practices have begun furloughing physicians as well. Michigan-based McLaren Medical Group furloughed around 500 providers, including orthopedic surgeons, after the group reported a 60 percent drop in patient volume. The furloughs were announced April 15 and the group is considering using the provider's patient volume to calculate furlough length; those with lower volume would be laid off longer.

3. Hospitals are also feeling the financial pressure of losing elective procedures. The Hill also reported on April 20 that emergency room workers, including doctors and nurses, are seeing pay cuts; notably, Mayo Clinic physician Leslie Simon, MD, said she took a 10 percent pay reduction along with her colleagues.

4. Medical staffing firms are also cutting physician pay, including Alteon Health. The company employs 1,700 emergency medical physicians in addition to other physicians, and it has cut paid time off, 401(K) matching and discretionary bonuses as a result of the pandemic, according to STAT. Atrius Health also cut pay for around 1,100 clinicians and staff, including those at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where the company held back accrued pay for ER physicians.

5. The New York Times reported that physicians across the country are being asked to take 20 percent to 70 percent pay cuts in the wake of COVID-19. Physicians that are compensated based on procedure volume are also seeing a significant reduction in pay of 50 percent to 75 percent or more.

More articles on orthopedics:
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