National Doctors’ Day coming up on March 30 and with the median physician’s salary at around $208,000, the personal-finance website WalletHub has released its report on 2023’s Best & Worst States for Doctors.

To identify the best states for those in the business of saving lives, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 19 key metrics. The data set ranges from the average annual wage of physicians to hospitals per capita to the quality of the public hospital system.  For example in California:

Practicing in California (1=Best, 25=Avg.):

  • 44th – Avg. Annual Wage of Physicians (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 41st – Avg. Monthly Starting Salary of Physicians (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 41st – Hospitals per Capita
  • 22nd – Insured Population Rate
  • 43rd – Projected % of Population Aged 65 & Older by 2030
  • 7th – Projected Physicians per Capita by 2030
  • 19th – Punitiveness of State Medical Board
  • 13th – Malpractice Award Payout Amount per Capita
  • 10th – Annual Malpractice Liability Insurance Rate

Biggest Issues Facing Doctors Today

“I think the greatest issue facing doctors today is their loss of professionalism due to the pressures placed on them by their employers (e.g., hospitals) or practice owners (e.g., private equity). These pressures preclude them from advocating for their patient’s welfare due to lack of time and concerns about annoying their employers/practice owners,” said Maxwell J. Mehlman JD, Professor; Co-Director, The Law-Medicine Center, Case Western Reserve University.

“Change. Providers need to navigate changing rules among electronic medical records, changing science, and changing insurance/reimbursement rules all at the same time and that is a challenge,” said Adam E. Block, Ph.D., Associate Professor, New York Medical College.

The Threat of Malpractice Lawsuit Affecting Doctors

“Defensive medicine is an issue on the minds of many providers. Statistically, most physicians can expect to be sued at some point in their careers. These suits can often be for what people least suspect. And providers must be covered by malpractice insurance by law so with rare exceptions, providers are in no way liable for any malpractice claims costs, particularly if they work for large practices or systems,” Block added.

“The data I am aware of, from 2006, show that malpractice expenses were a relatively small percentage (@ 10%) of physicians’ practice expenses,” Mehlman added.

Influence of State, and Local Policy on Doctors

“Medicaid is the biggest factor that varies between states that impacts professionals. In states with expansive Medicaid programs and relatively high reimbursement rates, providers often build practices around treating these populations. In states where Medicaid reimbursement rates are lower, providers are often reluctant to build practices around these populations and seek a mix of patients or exclude Medicaid patients completely,” Block said.

Source: WalletHub