By Robert Frank
Physicians are not only earning more, but their pay is rising much faster than the rate of inflation, according to a study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (www.cihi.ca), released Jan. 22.
Quebec taxpayers paid out 5 per cent more to compensate doctors in 2010-2011 than they did the year before; while doctors in the rest of Canada saw their payments go up by 3 per cent.
“The average payment for physicians in Quebec was a little over $254,000, compared to a national average of $307,000,” Walter Feeney told The Suburban in an interview.
“It’s important to note that this figure doesn’t give a breakdown for family doctors versus specialists,” continued CIHI’s lead researcher on doctor compensation. “We don’t have that precision yet. We’re working on it.”
“The rate of increase in physician payments has been slowing during the past few years,” Feeny added, underscoring that the rate of doctors’ pay increases was even higher in preceding years.
“In Quebec the 2010-2011 increase was 5 per cent; 2009-2010 was 6 per cent; and 2008-2009 was 11 per cent.”
“For the rest of Canada, in the same three years, those figures were 3 per cent; 5 per cent and 7 per cent.”
“Between 2006-2010, the average payment per physician rose 34 per cent,” Feeney said. “Nationally, the increase was 23 per cent.”
In contrast, Canada’s rate of inflation over the same period was 8.9 per cent: On a year-by-year basis, it was 2 per cent in 2006; 2.1 per cent in 2007; 2.4 per cent in 2008; 0.3 per cent in 2009; and 1.8 per cent in 2010.
He explained that these figures reflect the amount that doctors are paid for services funded by taxpayers. It does not account for the amounts paid to doctors who provide some of their services outside of Medicare, or who have left the taxpayer subsidized system altogether.
Provinces use the CIHI figures when they negotiate pay with doctors.
This is the first year that the CIHI study captured data on compensation for doctors who are on salary. Until now, the figures reflected only those paid on a fee-for-service basis.
“Before, we were only able to measure the money that was paid out and that was it,” Feeny concluded. “Now we can say how many physicians are receiving this payment.”
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