Going independent means managing a business and working long, unpredictable hours for an increasingly less certain income. Instead, young doctors are turning to hospitals, which are eager to hire them.
“The system is stacked against me,” says Jerad Widman, who sees patients in Spring Hill. He puts in 60-hour weeks caring for his patients but still brings home significantly less than the $175,000 income of the average family medicine doctor.
The fees can more than double the cost of a doctor visit. They’re raising the ire of patients and getting new scrutiny from federal officials now that hospitals nationwide are buying up physician practices.
Hospitals across the country are buying up the practices of independent doctors and making them employees. The hospitals lock in billions of dollars in revenue and referrals — and patients’ bills rise. First of three parts.
The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has a reputation for providing quality care and for saving money by keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital. The federal government is betting that other groups of doctors and hospitals can do this too.