A new report obtained exclusively by MODERN HEALTHCARE says group practices still pay their employed physicians the most, but hospitals are opening their wallets much wider, especially to attract primary-care doctors.
The Detroit office of William M. Mercer, a national benefits consulting firm, compiled the report, which analyzed the compensation and perquisites received by salaried staff physicians in group practices, hospitals and health maintenance organizations.
The report is based on a fall 1993 survey of 182 healthcare organizations employing about 9,600 physicians. Some 58% of the respondents were hospitals. Survey results will be released this week.
"We do see hospitals gaining on group practices in terms of compensation," said David Fletcher, a principal at William M. Mercer. He said year-to-year comparisons may be misleading because each year's survey may have different respondents.
The average total cash compensation paid to salaried hospital physicians jumped more than 17% to $149,908 last year from $127,575 in 1992. By comparison, the average total cash compensation paid to salaried group practice physicians actually dipped about 3% to $158,814 last year from $164,045 in 1992. As a result, the salary gap between salaried staff physicians at hospitals and group practices dropped to 5.6% last year from 22.2% in 1992.
Meanwhile, salaried physicians employed by HMOs saw their average total cash compensation climb nearly 8% to $133,582 last year from $124,222.
In the rush to add primary-care physicians to their rosters, both hospitals and group practices were extremely generous last year.
For example, staff internists at hospitals saw their average total cash compensation rise more than 25% last year to $116,959 from $92,990 in 1992. Hospital-based family practitioners enjoyed an 11.3% hike in average total cash compensation to $103,693 last year from $93,151 in 1992.
Group practices paid their staff internists $121,061 last year, up nearly 17% from $103,934 in 1992. Family practitioners employed by group practices saw their average total cash compensation climb nearly 16% to $120,309 from $104,053.
While group practices, hospitals and HMOs are throwing more money at physicians, they've been cautious about lavishing them with perquisites.
For example, only 27% of the responding organizations used signing bonuses last year to attract physicians; the average bonus was $6,215. In 1992, 30% of respondents used signing bonuses, with the average bonus being $7,267.