Female ophthalmologists make just 58 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make, according to a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.1
Researchers at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and colleagues analyzed data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services database for payments to ophthalmologists in 2012 and 2013. The study included 6,284 women ophthalmologists, and 26,006 male ophthalmologists.
The research found that female ophthalmologists collected $0.58 for every dollar collected by a male ophthalmologist. The mean payment per charge was the same for men and women, $66 in 2012 and $64 in 2013. However, the researchers found that much of the reason for the gap is that women had lower clinical activity and submitted fewer charges to CMS. Female ophthalmologists submitted fewer charges to Medicare in 2012 (median, 1120 charges; difference −935; 95% CI, −1024 to −846; P < .001) and in 2013 (median, 1141 charges; difference −937; 95% CI, −1026 to −848; P < .001) than male ophthalmologists.
When corrected by comparing men and women with similar clinical activity, renumeration was still lower for women, the authors noted. In both years, women were underrepresented among ophthalmologists with the highest collections.
In the most recent Medscape compensation survey, ophthalmologists were squarely in the middle of pay for physicians, at an average of $309,000, but in a comparison of full-time positions, women made an average of $242,000, which is $85,000 less per year than their male counterparts.
The researches concluded that further studies are necessary to explore root causes for this difference in earnings.
1. Reddy A, Bounds G, Bakri S, et al. Differences in clinical activity and medicare payments for female vs male ophthalmologists. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online January 19, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.5399 .