Study: Medicare Reimburses Female Physicians Less

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It seems no one is immune from the gender pay gap -- even doctors. Find out which medical specialties have the widest reimbursement disparity.

It seems no one is immune from the gender pay gap — not even doctors. Female physicians in the United States are not only paid less money than their male colleagues, but they’re also reimbursed less money for their services than their male peers.

How much less?

According to a new study published in the online edition of Postgraduate Medical Journal, Medicare reimbursed female doctors roughly $19,000 less than it did male physicians in 2012.

Researchers analyzed more than 3 million Medicare reimbursement claims for 2012 across 13 medical specialties. Initially, they found that overall, docs who were women received about $34,000 less than their male counterparts in Medicare reimbursements, and earned less money in 11 of 13 specialties.

Then researchers adjusted for factors that many people say are to blame for a gender pay gap: productivity, years of experience and the number of hours worked. After making those adjustments, a $19,000 pay gap still existed against female physicians.

The researchers called it a “decades-old injustice” for women to be paid less than men for the same work.

Of the 13 specialties, these had the most significant pay gaps by gender (figures are rounded):

  • Nephrology: $16,689
  • Rheumatology: $15,406
  • Pulmonary medicine: $11,018
  • Internal medicine: $10,850

Researchers said the narrowest gender pay gaps in 2012 occurred in hematology ($10,115), medical oncology ($3,971) and critical care ($4,360).

In an interview with Time, Dr. Tejas Desai, one of the study’s authors and a nephrologist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Salisbury, North Carolina, said researchers were surprised by the results.

“We didn’t expect there to be such a difference across so many specialties. None of your factors, like gender or age, should matter into your reimbursement. It’s a menu: you do X, you get Y.”

Are you surprised to see how big the gender pay gap is among doctors? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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