The average U.S. physician earns $350,000 annually, with top doctors making ten times that amount. A study using tax records from over 10 million physicians over 13 years revealed that doctors earn more than any other occupation, with those in the top 1 percent making an average of $4 million. While some specialties earn substantially more, family-practice physicians still make around $230,000 a year.
Despite the accurate data, some physicians were upset by the figures, as they felt it implied they were motivated solely by money rather than a desire to help patients. However, economists argue that it’s normal for professionals to consider earning potential and lifestyle factors when choosing a career.
The high income of American physicians is partly due to their response to earnings when choosing specialties and a shortage of doctors in the country. The U.S. has fewer doctors per person than many other economically advanced nations, and limited residency spots for medical graduates exacerbate this shortage.
Previously, attempts to limit the number of doctors led to a scarcity. However, current initiatives focus on augmenting the count of residency spots. Although there’s a worry that physicians’ earnings escalate healthcare expenses, statistics reveal that doctor’s compensation constitutes merely 8.6 percent of total health expenditure, rising at a lesser rate than the overall healthcare costs.
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[Source: The Washington Post, August 4th, 2023]