JULY 9, 2015 – Primary-care physicians, the first line of defense in our battered health-care system, get notoriously small reimbursements from insurers, a problem that has gotten worse in recent years. For many, the solution has been to join a group practice under the umbrella of one of the city’s academic medical centers, where the doctors get better reimbursement rates from health insurers, thanks to the leverage of the hospitals, and the hospitals ensure a steady supply of primary-care patients, who can be funneled to their own well-reimbursed specialists for big-ticket procedures like cardiac stents and hip replacements.
How hard is it to stay in business as a private-practice primary-care doc? “We’re dropping like flies,” says Eric Kenworthy, a 63-year-old internist, who for the past 24 years has been a solo practitioner in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill area. The “safety in numbers” approach didn’t suit Kenworthy’s temperament. “I didn’t want to be in one of those group practices where you have to have a meeting every time you want to change the colors of the drapes,” he says. Instead, to stay afloat, he’s had to get creative. Here, he walks through his expenses and revenues. “It’s a wonderful profession,” he says. “It’s just a horrible business.”
HERE’S WHAT ONE DOCTOR MAKES …
His Office’s Best Year: 2000