U.S. physicians - statistics & facts

As of September 2021, there were just over one million professionally active physicians in the United States. The number of active specialist physicians in the U.S. totaled 552,310. California, New York, and Texas were the states with the most active physicians. Female physicians continue to be outnumbered by males in most medical specialties, and they also earn less than their male counterparts in both primary care and specialty settings.

How much are U.S. physicians paid?

With an average annual compensation of around 511,000 U.S. dollars, orthopedics have the highest physician salary in the United States in 2020. At the other end of the scale, pediatricians earn the least of all physician specialties. Compensation includes an annual base salary plus the value of a benefits package. The total amount can vary widely by specialty but also by geography. The neighboring states of Kentucky and Tennessee have the highest average annual compensation for physicians in 2020.

Compensation for services depends on the payer

Total expenditures on physician and clinical services continue to increase and could hit around 800 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. Health care covered by private insurers accounts for around 40 percent of the expenditures, while the contribution from public health programs is also significant. The medical billing process is complex, and the amount physicians are reimbursed differs depending on the payer. Under the Medicare program, payments for services performed in a provider-based department are split in two: the physician bills for their professional services, but the hospital is compensated for the facility charges, which include expenses for personnel, equipment, and other resources. In contrast, for the same service at an independent clinic, the physician would bill for the full service.


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