Join the conversation to learn more about what’s going on in North Carolina when it comes to the health care issues we all face.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina invites you to learn how we’re fighting to rein in medical costs, and how you can too.
Filter Your Results
Let's Talk Cost
from Let's Talk Cost 2011
April 13, 2011
Family doctors in the U.S. made an average of $161,000 in 2004. Specialists made $230,000 on average.
Robert S. commented on April 13, 2011
Becoming a physician does require a significant academic and financial commitment, so the salaries should be reflective of this as well as the responsibility that a physician has to their patients. The Specialist salary is a bit too high, but for a Family Doctor - the salary is appropriate, I think.
Lynn H. commented on July 7, 2012
There is a shortage of family practice doctors. They work as hard and have to have, in some cases, more knowledge than a specialist as they treat all adult diseases. The reason that med. students don't go into family medicine is that they come out of school with a $125-200,000 debt and the salaries of specialists, which are mainly controlled by the American Med. Assn. whose members are largely specialists, make it easier to pay off the debt.
Unfortunately, with the ACA and eventually Single Payer, we will need a lot more family docs.
I totally disagree with you about salaries. Hosp. CEO's make $450,000-600,000/yr. and insurance co. CEO's make $14 million/year off the backs of sick people. Doctors are way underpaid for the responsibility they have for people's lives.
Tom W. commented on April 13, 2011
Remember doctors often go in debt ~$125k for med school x 4 years and then sacrifice their personal lives during residency training where they work (now) 80 hours per week for at least 3 years.
Sam M. commented on April 15, 2011
A PhD in philosophy requires years of research and cost, yet no professor I know makes anywhere near what a Dr. makes. Strawman.
andy b. commented on June 18, 2011
Sam M., how many professors do you know? and have you asked most of them their salaries? and then your averaged those numbers out or something?
You talk about the insurance company fudging (which I actually agree with you about), but isn't that what your statement was?
At least Tom W was making an actual factual statement....docs do graduate with $100,000 + in debt (on average), whereas PhD students (at least the vast majority) do not pay tuition, and in fact they are paid small salaries for all of their years
These figures are very misleading. You have used the low end, maybe someone working in Tennessee. For instance, a hematologist can make anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000, same with cardiologists. This is not even the average, which seems to be in the $300,000 range.
Why would I be surprised that an insurance company would fudge?
Let's Talk Cost commented on April 15, 2011
Sam M., thanks for your feedback. You’re right — some specialists make more than $230,000 a year. The number we provided is only the average compensation, so some doctors will be above that line, some will fall below.
We took these numbers from a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a nonpartisan agency within the Library of Congress that provides policy and legal analysis to all members of the U.S. House and Senate. The CRS analysis also draws on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international forum for comparing policy and identifying best practices.
If you’d like to see the report we referenced, you can download it by clicking the source link just beneath the fact. We used a chart found on page 23.
Tori P. commented on April 18, 2011
Sam - The information portrayed in the graph above is straight from the Congressional Research Service. They are AVERAGES. Yes, maybe a hemotologist makes $300,000 - $600,000 but another specialist may make somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000. The insurance company did not fudge any numbers, they used numbers from a reputable source. I understand that medical school loans can be very high but some graduate students with $50,000 - $75,000 in loans are making a 1/3 of physicians. I think residents should make more than they do for the hours that they put in - maybe if most physicians were compensated with a salary instead of charging "fee for service" then not only would we have health care that is directed towards making the patient better but we would also have more money to pay residents, more money to better the education of our doctors, more money to give back to individuals and companies who must keep up with provider costs.
Angie H. commented on April 18, 2011
I think a way to offset the cost of Drs education is offer debit forgiveness if they practice in rural areas,urban areas and military service.
Victor R. commented on April 19, 2011
No one is forcing you to go see a doc. I personally goto the highest paid docs because it means they are the best at what they do.
Never goto a teaching hospital doc like Duke. If they could, they would make it in private practice. Because they can't; they teach...
I pay top dollar for my medical insurance and see the top docs. If you pay for junk insurance; you get junk docs.
So what is more important to you? Top docs or a hot car & a big HDTV?
Sam M. commented on April 20, 2011
Victor- could you possible be any more ridiculous? Do you think this whole health care fight has been because people who need dialysis are clinging to their big screen TV's instead of coughing up good health care dollars?
People DO NOT HAVE that kind of money. Further, if you have not noticed, our economy is based on other things than just health care. Why should someone spend 50% of their income on health care? Why should someone bankrupt themselves? Why should they choose between food and health care?
Please- start looking around. If no one can afford Johns Hopkins but you, well, how long with JH last?
Allison W. commented on April 22, 2011
If I were to add maternity coverage to the bargain-basement coverage I have now (through BCBS), health insurance for me alone would be more than I pay in rent every month. Aren't I just a TERRIBLE person for wanting to live in a house as opposed to, I don't know...my car.... a tent... or maybe the problem is that my hubs (currently uninsured & self employed) and I might want to have a kid sometime in the future. I pay for my insurance after taxes b/c my employer does not offer health insurance. Hot car? try one 16yr old car and one 11yr old one. we do have a small flat screen tv, but that was a wedding gift. Aren't we terrible people!
I agree with Sam M on this point....Victor's comment is utterly ridiculous
Eric B. commented on December 15, 2011
The highest paid docs are simply the sleaziest, money-grubbin'est docs. They might have some narrowly defined technical proficiencies, but their corrupt values will surely more than compensate.
Lynn H. commented on July 8, 2012
Sorry to burst your bubble but I have been an RN for 40 years and worked in many different settings-teaching hospitals, HMO's like Kaiser ,for-profit hospitals, public county hosp., clinics,etc.
The skill of an MD is not necessarily reflected in their salary. there are many excellent physicians who prefer to care for pts. than making a huge salary. There are many great doctors in the Kaiser system and I don't think they publish their salaries. They prefer to work in this type of group practice system where malpractice, staff, IT systems,all their resources,etc. are provided for them.
Family MD's who can not only practice adult medicine but can deliver babies, do minor surgical procedures,etc. and therefore have a huge knowledge base and they are not compensated as much as specialists are.
Sometimes in teaching hospitals you get interns and residents who have the latest knowledge and therefore are very good practitioners. Some professors in med. school may only teach and not do clinical work.
If you want to know who the good doctors are rather than relying on their salaries ask nurses who work with them. We see some very bad doctors who get away with poor pt. outcomes and nurses are afraid to report them. Hospitals make money off of doctors and cover up their errors.
Doug D. commented on April 22, 2011
Society rewards the favored behavior. If you want more family doctors, change the model. There is a reason that plastic surgeons in LA make tons of money. It's the same reason the pediatric docs in the 4 corners region of the southwest make less than I do. If it's more valuable (to society) for children in the 4 corners region to have proper medical care than for women in LA to get botox injections, then associate a value to the people who provide the service.
It doesn't work that way at all. You can't buy "care." And paying more only guarantees that money completely trumps any interest they might otherwise have in the patient. Money blinds and corrupts and overwhelms true care. And it also draws the doctors into the whole money-corrupted system, so that they're no longer really even independent but just tools of the whole money-making machine.
A M. commented on September 9, 2011
I am a solo practice physician in a small southern town. I make 130k a year as I work only 30 CLINICAL hours a week. This does NOT include the time I spend calling insurance companies or filling out their forms or writing letters to them so they will allow my patient to take a medication, or allow them to authorize future visits to see me or agree to cover a hospitalization for my patient after the patient has been released from the hospital. This also does not include my calling patients back, writing other letters they need, answering patient's emergency pages or talking with with their other providers. I am not complaining this is part of my job but it takes time and it is often not reimbursed since it is seen by some insurance companies as an extension of the office visit.
Between college and medical school I have 60k in debt (as I lived with my parents in medical school in their basement and obtained scholarships for college). I went to a public university because I was fortunate enough to get into one and because I knew how it expensive it was going to be to be a doctor.
As I am in a under served area for my specialty (psychiatry), I am on call 24h a day every day
(except for the month I was on maternity leave as another doctor in a neighboring town covered for me). I get paged on Christmas day, during my children's birthday parties, when I am at home with them while they are sick, and when I am out alone with my husband. While I was in residency/fellowship training for 5 years, I made 5 dollars an hour during my first two years and then 7 dollars an hour for the next 3. I could not start saving much for retirement during residency because I had loans to pay, a car payment, rent etc.
I love being a doctor and am grateful I can make a difference in peoples lives. But to be honest, I would have not done all of this if I knew I wasn't going to be compensated for my years of studying, dealing with bureaucracy, dealing with the stress and responsibility of taking care of a human life, and having my job impinge on my personal life. I don't know if I want my children to become doctors as the personal side of being a doctor and the bureaucratic side is demanding. I don't know if it worth the money.
Not compensated? It must be awfully hard to pay off 60K in debt if you're "only" making 130K. That would only leave 70K to live on. It must takes decades to pay off those debts. Or you could pay off your debts in one year, give half of the rest to the IRS, and you're still making as much as the median American worker. Face it: you're getting rich by working for a disease-care mafia.
If you think you're undercompensated, try working an honest job for a year -- try growing basic food or producing basic clothing or shelter -- and then we'll talk.
ED PA C. commented on January 6, 2012
Eric B - I think you have no idea and have been awfully hard on AM. She holds 30 CLINICAL hours which does not account for all of the time she is spending doing all of the other things necessary to care for her patients. There is no question she is putting in 50 hours/weeks or more when all added up, just not all face to face with patients. Next she is providing psychiatric care for an underserved population - a population that has no money, high substance and alcohol abuse, terrible social circumstance - violence, under educated, poor living conditions, etc - AND has a psychiatric problem. People under those circumstances have very complex and demanding problems - which she has to try to solve. She takes call 24 hours/365 days....that means she ALWAYS has to be reachable and in a condition to make sound decisions or come to the hospital. ALWAYS.
This medical provider earns every drop of what she makes. After taxes and household expenses and malpractice insurance, it probably does take decades to pay off her school debt.
I have worked plenty of honest jobs - landscaping, factory worker, running pizzas, fast food, restaurants - you work hard and under hot and cold conditions, have little say in your job, you are dead tired when you get home, and I've had to decide if these $2 should go for milk or gas....there is absolutely no comparison. The good doctor has the harder job - so try to be a little more empathic.
Empathic was supposed to be empathetic.