Gastroenterologist pay drops to $406,000: 15 key statistics

Gastroenterologist pay dropped to $406,000, the seventh highest-paid specialty, with plastic surgeons beating orthopedic surgeons to the top spot in 2021.

Here are 15 insights on gastroenterologist compensation, incentive bonuses, patient volume and more, according to Medscape's Gastroenterologist Compensation Report and Physician Compensation Report.

Editor's note: Medscape collected data from 17,903 respondents in more than 29 specialties between Oct. 6, 2020, and Feb. 11, 2021.

1. The average annual pay for gastroenterologists is $406,000, down from $419,000 in 2020. Plastic surgeons topped the list with an average pay of $526,000.

2. In 2020, 96 percent of gastroenterologists reported a drop in income because of factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic — job loss, reduction in hours, reduction in patient volume, etc. But 13 percent said that factors unrelated to COVID-19 led to a drop in income.

3. Gastroenterologists earn average incentive bonuses of $60,000, seventh behind orthopedic surgeons, who earn $116,000 on average, according to Medscape. Average payment among gastroenterologists who received a bonus was 15 percent of total salary, the same as last year.

4. Sixty-six percent of gastroenterologists who earn an incentive bonus achieve more than three quarters of their potential annual payment, up from 62 percent in 2020. On average, gastroenterologists receive 73 percent of their potential bonus.

5. Average gastroenterologist compensation over the last five years was:

2019-20: $419,000
2018-19: $417,000
2017-18: $408,000
2016-17: $391,000
2015-16: $380,000

6. Fifty percent of gastroenterologists who took financial hits due to the pandemic expect their income to return to normal in this year; 34 percent said it will take two to three years; while 14 percent said they expect to never return to pre-pandemic income levels.

7. On average, employed gastroenterologists ($405,000) earn about the same as their self-employed ($408,000) counterparts. Among physicians overall, self-employed physicians earn on average $352,000 per year compared to $300,000 for employed physicians.

8. Gastroenterologists reported spending 15.2 hours per week on administrative work, up from 14.3 hours a week in 2020.

9. In terms of patient volume, gastroenterologists are seeing an average decline of about 10 percent, from 76 to 69 patients per week.

10. Most gastroenterologists (80 percent) are continuing to see new and current Medicare and Medicaid patients. Sixteen percent were undecided, and 1 percent said they will not take new Medicare patients.

11. This year, 50 percent of gastroenterologists plan to participate in the merit-based incentive payment system, and 12 percent aim to participate in advanced alternative payment models.

12. Fifty-five percent of gastroenterologists said they feel fairly compensated, up from 52 percent in last year's report.

13. Dealing with rules and regulations (22 percent), difficult patients (19 percent), working long hours (16 percent) and difficulties getting fair reimbursement from payers (13 percent) were cited as the biggest challenges in the specialty.

14. Twenty-four percent of gastroenterologists are women.

15. If given the opportunity, 93 percent of gastroenterologists said that they would choose their specialty again.

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