Economy and Demographics Affect Orthopedic Market
US Department of Labor, about three to four percent of all physicians (about 20,000) are specialized in orthopedic surgery. Over half of all orthopedic surgeons practice general orthopedics, while eleven percent practice spinal surgery, ten percent practice sports medicine, and the remainder specialize in other sub-specialties of Orthopedics.
There are about 640,000 physicians currently practicing . A report from the US Department of Labor, states that about three to four percent of all physicians (about 20,000) are specialized in Orthopedic Surgery. Over 50 % of all orthopedic surgeons practice general orthopedics, while eleven percent practice spinal surgery, ten percent practice sports medicine, and the remainder specialize in other sub-specialties of Orthopedics.. As many as 33% of today's practicing physicians may retire by the year 2020.
There is particular concern that in the near future as older physicians retire there is not enough physicians coming up for the increased demand caused by the aging population. Rural areas in particular are vulnerable to attracting and retaining physicians. Orthopedic surgery is an important specialty that will continue to be in high demand, with employment opportunities expected to grow faster than average between now and 2014. As the elderly population of the US increases, there will be a higher incidence of musculoskeletal conditions that occur with aging that increase demand for all sub specialties including Orthopedic Spine jobs. As our population ages and our need for health care grows the need for health care in the US is expected to continue to grow.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts continued growth for surgery jobs, particularly in rural areas of the U.S. where there is a low ratio of physicians to population . Earning potential for Orthopedic Surgeons can range from $350,000 to more than $500,000, according to the AMCC; the highest salaries are found in the private practice arena.
Other factors are also impacting the future demands in both directions besides aging population, the shrinking economy and finally the impending health care "reform". The general economic slowdown and the ensuing job loss across the country has had a direct impact on the revenue stream to physicians. When people lose their jobs, they also lose their health care benefits and so access to health care. This lose is felt more in some parts of the country than others but this should mitigate any shortages for the short term.
Last years stock market collapse has had a major impact on older physicians' decisions. Many doctors are postponing retirement because of the economy's impact on their retirement stock holdings. Many physicians lost such a large part of their portfolio that they need to continue working to replace their loss. But even a three- to five-year delay won't address the impending loss of experienced physicians to retirement. This postponement has resulted in some cases that fewer jobs being currently offered and graduating residents not finding as many opportunities as before. Residents rather than committing themselves to less desirable jobs are opting for Orthopedic locum jobs and waiting before committing to full time employment.
Health Insurance Reform
Another large uncertainty is the the nature of national health reform. If the health care reform actually works in increasing the enrollment into health care insurance then the long term the aging population and these increased numbers should push demand for services and therefore cost higher. However, no one yet knows what will happen to reimbursement rates from Medicare. Because of these and other factors many physician practices are holding off making any decisions until they have a better idea of how the health reform will impact these reimbursements.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Truog founded of Physemp.com in 1994 as one of the first online physician employment sites for all specialties including Orthopedic Surgery Jobs.