CRNA pay is skyrocketing. Here's why

Certified registered nurse anesthetist compensation is rising across the country as anesthesia provider shortages plague hospitals and ASCs, VMG Health said in a May 22 blog post

Here are 10 key notes on why CRNA compensation is rising, according to the VMG Health article:

1. Although CRNA level of autonomy varies by market, the importance of CRNAs remains fairly consistent, according to the report. 

"With their ability to operate nearly identically to an anesthesiologist in most general cases, CRNAs also incur the same level of risk as physicians and the increased costs associated with such risk," the report said.

2. Increased utilization, higher malpractice insurance expenses and reimbursement obstacles are the major drivers of the higher costs for CRNASs. 

3. Anesthesiology services have historically been provided by a mix of physicians and CRNAs, but as the physician shortage accelerates, CRNA-heavy care teams have become more popular. 

4. Typically, one physician supervises between one and four CRNAs, which allows facilities to rely on CRNAs as opposed to more expensive coverage. 

5. Compensation continues to grow alongside CRNA utilization, with facilities offering lucrative recruitment packages, commencement bonuses and higher-dollar salaries to retain.

6. Additionally, many states are pushing to expand the scope of CRNA independent practice, so utilization is expected to rise.  

7. Average CRNA malpractice insurance in 2024 is $5,968, which is nearly 50% higher than the average for all other non-physician providers, likely because many CRNA practice independently. 

8. Additionally, CRNAs have become more lucrative as anesthesia reimbursements continue to decline. CMS reimbursement has decreased from $22.27 per unit in 2019 to $20.44 in 2024. CRNAs are reimbursed at this rate in the states where they can practice independently. 

9. The reimbursement disparity is particularly burdensome for providers with a majority of Medicare and Medicaid patients, as public payers are reimbursed at a lower rate than private, according to the report. 

10. "With a CRNA shortage looming, these underserved areas must stay competitive in compensation offers to recruit and retain the essential services CRNAs provide to the community," the report said. "This level of competition contributes largely to the upward drive of average CRNA compensation, as the majority of the CRNAs are operating in the U.S. in lower-income markets."

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