A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that male doctors are earning considerably more than female doctors, and a second study of Medicare reimbursements confirms that men are out-earning women by an astonishing 88% in annual Medicare reimbursements. In terms of gross income, male doctors out-earn female ones, but a closer examination of the data reveals that on a per service delivered model, female doctors earn more than their male counterparts.
There are several explanations for this large gap in earnings between men and women in the medical profession, none of which have anything to do with sexism or misogyny, contrary to claims made by feminist media commentators. Male physicians see approximately 60% more patients than women: 512/yr versus 320/yr, respectively. Male physicians also deliver more services per patient, chalking up 5.7 services billed per patient compared to women’s 4.7. This gap held true across almost all specialities, with men delivering more services per patient than women. Assuming all services are medically necessary, male doctors deliver better healthcare than women to each patient.
Male doctors earn an average of $118, 782/yr from medicare. Multiplying 513 patients by 5.7 services (2924 services provided in total) and dividing the annual income by this number gives us a per service fee of $40.62. Female doctors earn an average of $63, 346, providing 4.7 services to 320 patients (1504 services provided in total) for an average per service fee of $42.11. Women doctors earn $1.49 more per service rendered than men.
In Canada, the UK and the US, there is a looming shortage of primary care physicians, also known as general practitioners or family doctors, because these non-specialized forms of medicine appeal to women doctors, who also prefer to work part time or not at all when they have young children. Dr. Brian Day, the head of the Canadian Medical Association notes that women doctors ‘will not work the same hours or have the same lifespan of contributions to the medical system as males’, exacerbating a medical system already strained by baby-boomer demographics. Since nearly half of all women doctors marry other doctors, they are not compelled by economic circumstances to provide for their families, permitting women doctors to work greatly reduced hours, by choice. According to an article published in the Annuals of Internal Medicine, ‘differences [between men and women and hours worked] reflect personal choices that will increasingly affect the profession as more physicians marry physicians.’
Most of the so-called wage gap comes down to women’s personal choices, and men’s willingness to contribute more to their families in terms of earned income, which is neither sexist nor misogynist. When Forbes Magazine surveyed working women in America, an astonishing 84% of women agreed that staying home was a ‘luxury’ they aspired to, indicating that the wage gap may be a privilege for women – the privilege of not being required to contribute to a family financially to the full extent of her ability. For women doctors, this privilege is compounded not only by having the luxury of choice, but in earning more money per service delivered than men, who work longer hours, see more patients, and deliver more services to patients overall.
The wage gap in medicine, measured in terms of services rendered, disadvantages men, not women.