According to Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2021, Apart from the trials of the COVID-19 epidemic, doctors pay scale/payments in 2020 and at the beginning of 2021 remained remarkably steady compared to the beginning of 2020.

In order to come up with an accurate report, Medscape surveyed 17,903 doctors that cover more than 29 Specialties between October 2020 to February 11, 2021. Medscape analyzed physician’s responses that include physician distribution by specialty, gender and state.

Around 18,000 physicians (in 29 specialists) revealed their bonuses, income, working hours, biggest difficulties, and the impact of COVID-19 on their payment.

Doctors PayScale Steady

Medscape discovered that, despite the pandemic, overall compensation doesn’t have any difference and remains steady. Primary care physicians received $242,000 in early 2021, compared to an average of $243,000 at the beginning of 2020. Specialists salary on average $344,000 in 2021, but in 2020 it was $346,000.

Several doctors used the Paycheck Protection Program for the support, some could renegotiate their lease agreements; and some reduced their staff that helped manage their expenses and those in capitation plans received payments even though they were not seeing many patients, said Michael Belkin, divisional VP of Merritt Hawkins & Associates.

Belkin further added the use of telehealth and its coverage and how it helped many physicians during the pandemic. As stated by Medscape, the incentive bonus of primary care providers is 59% and 55 % for specialists.

Highest, Lowest Payment by Speciality

Let’s find doctors pay scales based on specialty.

As stated by Medscape, plastic surgery is known as the highest paying specialty in the early of 2021. The annual compensation for the surgery is $526,000 which is increased compared to last year. However, with an average annual compensation of $221,000 pediatrics ranked as the lowest-paying specialty, 5% less than last year.

Oncologists received properly compensated income at the beginning of 2021. Less than half of infectious disease specialists stated they felt fairly compensated which is a decrease from 51% of last year.

Medscape Classified the Top Ten Us States as per Their Compensation in 2021

Alabama – $348,000

Kentucky- $340,000




South Carolina-$332,000





Gender Compensation 

As stated by Medscape, the gender compensation gap also played a role. Male primary physicians get paid about 27% which is more than women of 25% compensation in the year prior. The pay gap has increased slightly among specialists. Male specialists earn around 33% which is more than women in 2021, compared to 2020 it is a 31% pay gap and in 2019 it is a 33% gap. 

How COVID-19 Impacted Physicians

As per the Medscape report, 45% of physicians said that they didn’t have any financial issues. However, some physicians reported negative impacts on their finances due to COVID-19 related problems (92%) that include jobless, reduction in working hours, or seeing fewer patients. 13% stated they received no payments for multiple months.

When they were asked what the most challenging part of their jobs was, 23%, responded that it was cited the roles and regulations of their jobs and 7% told risks linked with treating COVID-19 patients.

Medscape also found that physicians were seeing patients less in number, with an average of 71 per week, earlier, before the pandemic, it was 76. However, 46% said there was no reduction in patient volume, and 44% experienced a permanent decline in patient volumes from 1% to 25%. 

According to Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, it is still unknown whether the decrease of patient volume is permanent or not. But patient volume is slowly increased which is not improved like normal. But the offices started to reopen which can help for a massive increase in medical practices that lead to an increase in patient volumes.