Value-based care helps close PCP-specialist pay gap

The pay gap between primary care physicians (PCP) and their specialist counterparts continues to close, thanks in part to the healthcare industry's shift toward value-based care, according to a new report from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

PCP compensation rose nearly 3.6 percent last year to an average of $241,273, according to MGMA's 2015 Physician Compensation and Production Report. Meanwhile, specialist pay rose just 2.4 percent, although their total pay outpaces PCPs' at $411,273.

PCP pay has been rising faster than specialists since 2012, and migration away from fee-for-service medicine to pay based on quality and outcomes has helped enhance the shift. "It's a buyer's market," MGMA CEO Halee Fischer-Wright, M.D., a pediatrician, told Forbes. "Every system needs primary care physicians as they shift to value-based care models."

Payer contracts including quality components are likely to become even more prevalent, Fischer-Wright noted, adding that nearly 11 percent of PCP payments came from value-based contracts in 2014, compared to 6 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2012. "In two to three years I think this will grow to the 25 percent to 33 percent range," she said.

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