Physician employment Benefits
Compensation as a physician employee consists of salary plus benefits. You need to know what benefits you can get before you begin negotiations. If the physician employer is not willing to raise the physician salary, you can ask for more benefits and add value to the compensation. Also the benefits can help you differentiate between two jobs offering the same physician salary.
Sometimes benefits offered have to be same for all employees in the corporation by policy or law. Therefore there is little an employer can do about them. But CME leave, CME expenses, Vacation etc. is negotiable and should always be negotiated.
Following list of benefits may not be complete but covers most of them. Many corporate employers also offer additional benefits such as day care, even pet day care etc.
HEALTH BENEFITS: Most of the employers offer health benefits. It is very important to have health insurance. Medical Bills are one of the most common causes of bankruptcy. A single catastrophic medical emergency can wipe away all your savings and put you under more debt.
Read your physician employment contract very carefully. It should say whether the employee or the whole family is covered under the health insurance. If your family is not covered then you will have to pay additional out of your pocket cost to get coverage for them. And you should.
High deductible insurance has nowadays become very popular amongst employers. It requires them to pay lower premiums. For employees it opens up another venue to add to their saving and get tax breaks via Health Savings Accounts. However because of its high deductible, it discourages normally healthy people to go for medical check ups. So review the health insurance policy carefully before you make a choice.
VACATION: Please make sure the number of “paid vacation” or “paid time off” is always listed on your physician employment contract. Also it should specify separately the number of sick days, maternity leave, paternity leave, CME leave etc. It should also be clear whether holidays are included in the number of days mentioned or does it mean business days only.
CME EXPENSES: To maintain your medical license you have to complete certain hours of accredited medical CME every year. The medical CME expenses, including travel expenses ,are usually reimbursed by the employer up to a certain amount. That amount should be disclosed to you and written in the physician employment contract or physician employment agreement. It is also negotiable.
MOVING EXPENSES: Most of the times physician employers will offer to reimburse your moving expenses. If they do not offer it, be sure to ask. It can help offset your cost of moving to a different city or town. Remember, you cannot claim moving expenses you did not incur. So save your bills.
LIFE INSURANCE: Many physician employers may provide life insurance. Review the policy carefully because most of the time it is for a very small amount, e.g. $50,000. Also it usually pays the employer as a beneficiary to cover their cost of loosing an employee. In that case it is useless for you and I would suggest purchasing a separate policy. Larger corporations may provide more meaningful life insurance coverage.
DISABILITY INSURANCE: Most practices offer disability insurance. Do clarify if it is ‘short term’ or ‘long term’ disability insurance. Short term disability insurance usually covers disability for one to three months only. During this period physician employee will receive disability pay which is a percentage of your income. Long term disability covers disability up to age 65 and is preferable. Combination of both will give you maximum protection.
401K: Most medical employers offer 401K plans. Many of them match your contributions about 3% to 6%. So if you contribute to 401K (which you should) you will “earn” that extra money just for saving for yourself. Also it will give you tax breaks. Hospitals and larger institutions may provide 403b or other kind of tax shelters. Always find out how long you have to be employed by the corporation before they will consider you vested, partly or fully, to claim the employers contribution to the account upon leaving.
MISCELLANEOUS: Many larger organizations such as hospitals may provide wide variety of unconventional benefits such as day care for children (and even for pets at times!), concierge services for physicians, further education etc. All of these, based on your needs, may add value to the compensation package.