Future of Orthopaedic Surgery and salaries

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10+ Year Member
Mar 6, 2012
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Before everyone gets all crazy, i am not at all money hungry. I am not looking into orthopedic surgery for the money. You may know that im 14 and am just looking and researching. I am not dead set on devoting my life to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. That being said ( i had to, i was slightly misunderstood on my last thread ) i had a few questions

- What does the future withhold for ortho surgeons? As far as job availability?

-What are the salaries going to do? Some say that they will go so low it wont even be worth going to med school, some say they will be mostly unaffected.Are the salaries going down,up,neutral?

- What are some reliable figures for the average salary of an orthopedic surgeon? I have seen anywhere from 200k to 500k

Again, im not money crazy. I would just like to know ( if i decide to pursue the medical field and possibly orthopedic surgery ) that i had financial security.


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Nobody knows. The future of healthcare and especially reimbursement is a guessing game. I can assure you it's not going up though. Excel in high school and college, then re-evaluate. We may have a better idea in 8 years.
In 2011, orthopedic surgeons saw the cost of running their practice significantly increased while reimbursement steadily declined — and 2012 promises more of the same. Meaningful use requires groups to implement expensive electronic medical records, absorb more overhead costs and spend more time filling out forms than seeing patients. At the same time, Medicare and private payors have such low rates that seeing some patients becomes unprofitable.

"There is a constant downward pressure on what we are paid to deliver care," says Frank Kolisek, MD, orthopedic surgeon and president of OrthoIndy, an Indianapolis-based orthopedic practice. "Something has got to give because it's becoming more and more difficult for us to keep our practices afloat."

In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Kolisek and his group's leadership are politically active and often meet with Congressmen and advocates for medical professionals in Washington, DC, and in the state of Indiana. One of the anecdotes he uses to illustrate the financial hardship of physicians today harkens back to his first practice, opened in 1992. At that time, his Medicare reimbursement for a hip and knee replacement procedure was 55 percent more than it was in 2011. That is a 45 percent decrease in the surgeon fee over the past 19 years. Over the same time period, overhead costs have increased about 65 percent. Therefore, it costs much more now to run a medical practice than it did 20 years ago and we get paid less for the medical care we provide. This is what is driving physicians to retire and/or seek employment by a hospital system.

"I have performed a total hip replacement for a [patient on Medicare] and received Medicare reimbursement rates," says Dr. Kolisek. "[The same patient] took her Labrador retriever to the veterinarian for a hip replacement and had to pay cash upfront for the procedure and it was more than twice what Medicare paid me. The vet made 56 percent more to replace the dog's hip than I did to replace the owner's hip. I do not mean to be critical towards the vet, but rather to point out that physicians can't withstand anymore cuts in Medicare reimbursement for medical care we deliver to patients."

"When I began my practice in 1992, my overhead was around 40 percent, so I got to keep 60 cents of every dollar collected for personal income," says Dr. Kolisek. "My overhead now is 78 percent so I get to keep only 22 cents on every dollar I collect; at the same time, I'm collecting fewer dollars than I did 20 years ago as reimbursements have decreased. The increased government regulations make it difficult to practice medicine and the overhead costs make it hard to keep our lights on."