Fair wages for outpatient secretary- California

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15+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2008
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I am in the process of hiring a secretary (as 1099) to my psych office. The secretary will work remotely most of the days ( she will be in the office once a week). The work involves in answering calls, scheduling appointments and processing claims (calling insurance for claims denied and so on).
My EMR is luminello, so I submit the claims myself (but sometimes we spend time calling insurance for several issues).

I check the average wages for "hospital secretary" and it shows as $21/hour in California. I guess those wages are for W-2 employees.
I wonder how much are you guys offering?

Thank you.

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Most every medical office has massive turnover. Needing to again go through the hiring process is a pain.
The secretary likely won't meet 1099 and that is the first thing you need to really look at, and plan on being a W2 employee.
If you find someone who does their job and you can work with... you want to keep them. Find out it what it will take to keep them.
Don't get bogged down on $19.50 vs $21.00 vs $22.00 hr etc.

I've got my assistant I've had for several years now. Couldn't imagine having to re-hire someone else new.
I use a SEP-IRA instead of a 401k, and that is the benefit I offer my assistant instead of health insurance, which they get through spouse.
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Minimum wage is $16 in CA. You’re unlikely to hire and retain someone good for $21/hour. You can either pay more to hire and retain good people or make detailed SOPs for all tasks to standardize onboarding
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Agree with both above. And I want to emphasize Sushi's point: this is probably W-2 work, not 1099. I would run it by an attorney to save yourself a lot of grief later!

Also your location within California matters a lot. The Bay Area will have different pay expectations than a rural inland area for example.

I suspect hiring on your own would be quite expensive. Any chance you could pool with a couple other local psychiatrists to jointly hire the secretary/biller?
And to answer your question more directly I have a part-time practice but do cash only and handle all billing myself. I hope to avoid ever having to hire an employee, it seems to complicate things quite a bit.
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Definitely concur with location mattering, but $21 is going to be super hard even in deepest Modoc or Inyo county.
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Did you read the IRS definitions of 1099 or are you purposefully trying to break the law? Because there is zero way for this position to meet the IRS definitions of 1099. Contractors MUST be free to establish their own hours, provide their own tools, etc.

You’ll have them lined out the door, just to get a payday when you’re sued and reported to the labor board.

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To add to above, California has even stricter rules about 1099 than most other states and they've been looking hard at this because of the whole Uber/Lyft thing. Not the state I'd want to F around with 1099 vs W2 status, it's pretty clear cut.

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I suggest outsourcing this to a virtual secretary company. This way you pay the company a fee per hour and the quality of work is excellent, since these people really need that job unlike Americans.
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