Is NY the Worst Place for Doctors?

Yes, according to a national survey; local medical society disagrees

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

New York ranks dead last as the most desirable places for doctors to practice, according to a March, 2017 WalletHub report.

The study included 14 metrics, such as wage, punitive tendency of the state medical board, annual malpractice liability insurance rate and more.

It drew information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, Health Resources & Services Administration, Projections Central’s State Occupational Projections, WebMD, Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, Public Citizen, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Diederich Healthcare.

Christopher Bell, executive director of the Monroe County Medical Society in Rochester, doesn’t take the study very seriously.

“Anywhere is a challenging environment to practice medicine,” Bell said.

He said that reform or repeal of the Affordable Care Act may or may not help. Regardless, physicians function like small business owners, which “is already very difficult,” he said. “Every small business owner faces struggles.”

Bell thinks that patients shouldn’t worry about the quality of their care in light of the WalletHub report.

It’s important to look at the listing in context, since many of the lower-ranking states, including New York, include large metropolitan areas that have higher costs of living and denser concentration.

They include Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey, and District of Columbia.

New York’s ranking has to do with many different factors, according to Liz Urbanski Farrell, director, member services and government relations for Western New York Healthcare Association in Tonawanda.

“A major factor is the cost of medical malpractice insurance, which is exceptionally high in New York State for more than a few specialties, as compared to other states,” she said.

While the cost of medical malpractice insurance in Upstate ranges between $25,356 and $36,357 annually according to the Medical Liability Monitor’s 2015 survey, the higher rates in Downstate, topping $136,398 in Long Island, skews the statistics.

“While physician compensation may look lower in Upstate New York than in other areas, our Western New York hospitals, nursing homes and medical groups in Upstate New York offer a very high quality of life for a comparatively lower cost of housing and living than in Downstate New York or other areas of the country,” Farrell said.

She said that her organization’s hospital members tailor packages that oftentimes pays for their medical malpractice insurance, provides their preferred scheduling, and assistance with personal elements of moving to the area, such as helping the physician’s family with finding work and touring schools.

“We greatly appreciate our physicians in Western New York and look forward to having more physicians look beyond words and numbers on a website to the communities where they and their families can have an excellent quality of life,” Farrell said.

Practicing in New York State

According to WalletHub, here’s how New York ranked.
(1=Best, 25=Average).

49th    Average Annual Wage of Physicians (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
39th    Average Monthly Starting Salary of Physicians (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
51st    Hospitals per Capita
28th    Projected % of Population Aged 65 & Older by 2030
46th    Projected Number of Physicians per Capita by 2024
28th    Punitiveness of State Medical Board
51st    Malpractice Award Payout Amount per Capita
39th    Annual Malpractice Liability Insurance Rate

For the full report, please visit: