Physicians' average net income fell 5% in real dollars between 1995 and 1999, while at the same time average salaries for other skilled professionals increased about 3.5%, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington. Medicine, however, remains among the highest-paid professions in the nation. Physicians' average net income was about $187,000 in 1999, with more than half of all doctors earning in excess of $150,000. The study, based on a survey of about 12,000 physicians, suggests that part of the reduction in earnings was due to the growth of managed care in the mid-1990s and the resulting deep discounts in fees. The decline in earnings slowed as managed-care plans loosened restrictions between 1997 and 1999, the study said. "The real-dollar decline in physician income may help explain why physicians have objected so strongly to Medicare payment reductions and why a smaller proportion of physicians is providing charity care," said Paul Ginsburg, center president. Read the report. -- by Michael Romano
Docs' earnings fell 5% in late 1990s: study
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