The role of government, payers in orthopedic surgeon compensation


Eric Sigmond, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Sidney Health Center in Sidney, Mont., recently connected with Becker's to discuss the role of the government and payers in orthopedic surgeon compensation. 

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Eric Sigmond: The insurance companies are using supply and demand to lower fees. If you are accepting these fees, you are getting what you are worth. I have had a peripatetic career that has led me to smaller and smaller markets, which pay much better. Around the major metropolitan areas, there are enough orthopedic surgeons so that the insurance companies can use competition to lower prices. The government regulation has also been designed to crush independent practitioners. Doctors employed by the hospitals can fee split and often get paid based on how much they deliver to X-ray and MRI revenue, and they can direct patients to their own institution. The only way to increase prices is for more surgeons to quit. I think this stinks, but it's the way it is.

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