Will Healthcare Salaries Increase As Premiums Go Up?

By Manda Perkins Published on December 29, 2016

In 2010, congress signed the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, into law to help make health insurance more affordable and accessible for the average American. While this law allowed roughly 16 million previously uninsured people to have health coverage, coming changes may soon make these premiums more expensive. On January 1, 2017, health insurance premiums on state and federally run exchanges are set to rise by an average of 25 percent, with some states preparing for hikes of more than 50 percent.

Although these changes might not be welcomed with open arms by insurance clients, they are expected to benefit healthcare professionals.

How Healthcare Salaries Have Increased In Years Past

Unlike some predictions of flattening salaries with the implementation of Obamacare, medical professionals across the board have seen surging pay. In fact, physician starting salaries have experienced year-over-year increases for select specialties, according to Merritt Hawkins’ 2016 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives. From their report, salary increases from 2015 to 2016 include:

  • Family medicine doctors increased 13 percent
  • Internal medicine doctors increased 14 percent
  • Psychiatry doctors increased 11 percent
  • Orthopedic surgeons increased 5 percent
  • Urologists increased 12 percent

These boosts in compensation project a good forecast for 2017 and the coming years. Generally speaking, the national starting salaries for professional occupations in areas like technology, financing, legal, and marketing are expected to increase an average of 3.6 percent next year. In comparison, medical professional salaries are projected to increase by 19 percent from 2014 to 2024.

While areas like family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics typically garner notable yearly wage bumps, this year specialists are also expected to thrive. In 2017, according to the Merritt Hawkins report referenced above, general surgeons will see a 12 percent salary boost, dermatologists a 12 percent boost, urologists a 14 percent increase and OB/GYNs a 16 percent bump.

Why Are Healthcare Salaries Increasing?

To better understand why salaries in the healthcare industry continue to increase year-after-year, it’s important to take a look at the changing demographics and demands of the market. Whereas before, when millions of individuals couldn’t afford insurance, now Americans with coverage can afford to not only see a family doctor, but they can also receive specialty care that was generally out of reach when they were uninsured.

The elderly population, for example, doesn’t just need a family doctor who monitors their medication; they also need care for special things like complex, chronic illnesses. Psychiatrists, radiologists, oncologists, and other physician specialists all saw big pay increases last year, which reflects where the market is heading in 2017.

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