Alpharetta, Ga. (Vocus/PRWEB) November 20, 2008 -- Already handicapped by closer third-party-payer scrutiny of rising imaging costs, many radiologists fear the additional, potential effect of universal healthcare coverage on their medical practices. More than half (52 percent) of radiologists responding to a recent radiologist salary survey conducted by physician recruiting firm LocumTenens.com said universal healthcare would negatively affect their personal incomes.
Among almost 200 radiologist salary survey respondents, 39 percent indicated such a policy would have no effect on their earnings. Only 9 percent thought universal healthcare would positively affect their personal incomes.
"Radiology practices today are being threatened from all sides," LocumTenens.com Vice President-Radiology Katie Thill said. "Perhaps more than any other specialists, radiologists are being squeezed between payers' need to control costs and skyrocketing practice expenses caused by everything from innovative technology to defensive medicine."
Among radiologist respondents to a healthcare reform survey conducted earlier this year by LocumTenens.com, 42 percent offered negative comments about universal healthcare's potential effect on physicians' practices. For example:
"... The practice of medicine will become increasingly punitive and will make less sense personally and financially ..."
"It would further distance delivery of medical care from its associated costs. Our current health care delivery system represents the antithesis of the free market system and results in its enormous cost and questionable effectiveness in maintaining a generally healthy population."
"I think it will lower the quality of medical care in the U.S."
"A government sponsored universal healthcare would result in decreased reimbursement, more regulations and will result in eliminating services and closing offices ... All patients will now be denied access because doctors can not provide services."
''Decrease reimbursement, increase waiting times from decreased access, like Canada.''
However, some respondents to the firm's radiologist salary survey see potential upside from universal healthcare coverage:
"It's the right thing to do no matter what the effect on my income, but I think it will help my private practice."
"Universal healthcare would reduce my income in the short term. But the longer term effect would be good, since the current system isn't sustainable."
"Such a large portion of our practice is 'no pay' that I believe the overall effect would be helpful."
Radiologist Salary Trends Identified
In spite of practice challenges, 73 percent of radiologist salary survey respondents said their 2007 income was greater than (44%), or about the same as (29%), their income in 2006. However, more than a quarter (27%) of responding radiologists reported earning less income in 2007 than in 2006, with 15 percent reporting income decreases of 10 percent or more.
Based on LocumTenens.com survey responses, the 2008 annual diagnostic radiologist salary averaged $367,907.70, roughly a seven-percent increase over an average $343,330 for 2007 respondents to the LocumTenens.com survey. While 33 percent of 2008 respondents were in private practice and 27 percent were employer-based, 28 percent reported working on a locum tenens or contract basis exclusively.
More than half of 2008 radiologist respondents (55%) said they had no plans to change jobs. However, more than a quarter of respondents (26%) said they planned to change jobs within the next year.
Most 2008 respondents to the radiologist salary survey (71%) said they would choose medicine as a career again if given the choice.
Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is a full-service physician recruiting firm specializing in anesthesiology jobs, cardiology jobs, psychiatry jobs, radiology jobs, surgery jobs and CRNA jobs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. LocumTenens.com is part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies.