Profits of independently practising medical specialists in the Netherlands rose by an averagee 8.3 percent annually in the period 2001 to 2009. Independent general practitioners (GPs) and dentists realised 5.6 and 4.4 percent more profit per year on average. Specialists’ fees were cut by just over 20 percent in 2010. This reduction is reflected in the first profit declarations for 2010.
Specialists make twice as much profit as GPs and dentists
On average, the annual taxable profit of independently practising medical specialists amounted to 259 thousand euro in 2009. This is more than twice the amount realised by independent GPs and dentists, whose profits were 125 thousand and 119 thousand euro respectively in the same year.
Profits of independent medical specialists rose annually in the period 2001-2009. The largest increase, 15 percent, was in 2008, the year in which radical changes were introduced in how care by medical specialists is financed. For independent GPs, profits rose by most in 2006 (25 percent), the year in which new legislation on health care insurance came into effect. In 2008 their average profits decreased by 4.4 percent, to rise again subsequently by 2.2 percent in 2009. Profits of dentists fell by 2.1 percent in 2009.
Taxable profits of independent medical specialists, GPs and dentists
Profits rise by more than wages
Many doctors, especially medical specialists, have the position of an employee. In the period 2001-2009 wages of medical specialists, GPs and dentists rose by 3.2 to 3.7 percent. This is more than the average wage rise in the health care sector (2.6 percent).
In all three professions, the wages of those employed by others rose by less than the profits of those working independently. The difference was largest for medical specialists: 3.2 percent annual rise in wages versus 8.3 percent rise in profits.
Increase in profits and wages, 2001/2009
Large differences in profit growth between specialties
Independent doctors in some specialties made more profit in 2001-2009 than those in other specialties. The largest increase in profit, around 12 percent per year on average, was for anaesthetists and radiologists. Cardiologists had the smallest increase in profits: 4 percent per year on average.
Taxable profits in some medical specialties
In 2008 a new financing system was introduced, which had unintended effects on the remuneration of auxiliary specialties, such as anaesthesiology and radiology. This is one of the reasons that the effects of the change for specialists’ profits are so divergent. While average profits of radiologists and anaesthetists rose by 36 and 47 percent respectively from 2007 to 2008, for other specialists, cardiologists for example, profits decreased.
In 2010, the government reduced hourly fees for medical specialists. Profit declarations currently available do not make it possible to indicate how this has affected the level of profits of medical specialists, however.
Onno van Hilten, Rudi Bakker and Koos Arts