Nearly Half of Primary Care Docs Get No Additional Compensation for On-call

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , April 28, 2010

Nearly half—44%—of primary care physicians received no additional compensation for on-call coverage, according to the Medical Group Management Association’s Medical Directorship and On-Call Compensation Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data.

In addition, 49% of nonsurgical specialists who answered Englewood, CO-based MGMA’s survey reported no additional compensation for on-call coverage, while 72% of surgery specialists received additional on-call compensation. Most survey respondents said the compensation was in the form of a daily or annual stipend.

The daily rate of on-call physician compensation varied greatly among specialties. Family practitioners with and without OB/GYN earned $110 and $100, respectively, per day. Neurosurgeons earned $1,671 daily. Ophthalmologists earned $500 in additional compensation per day while general surgeons earned $905 and urologists earned $283. The holiday rate for general surgeons was $3,000, and family practitioners received $588 per day.

"For many privately owned physician practices, the trend toward payment for on-call coverage is a positive one. Hospitals are faced with staff issues regarding who should receive pay and why, and are frequently called upon to develop justifiable rationale to support their decisions," said Kenneth T. Hertz, principal, MGMA HealthCare Consulting Group. "At the same time, as the trend toward physician employment within integrated systems increases, the separate on-call payment disappears from the formula and instead, is integrated in the overall compensation package."

On-call providers reported 971 hours worked per year for their annual stipend, 720 hours worked per month for their monthly stipend and 20 hours worked per week for their weekly stipend. Those who were paid on a daily rate were expected to be on call for a full 24 hours.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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