2020 will likely go down in history as one of the most challenging years in recent memory for the American healthcare system. The fluctuations from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused financial strain on hospitals that have alternated between elective procedure shutdowns and coronavirus peak patient surges. It’s been a rocky ride for everyone from community healthcare providers to large non-profit health systems. One thing is certain for 2021; the demand for qualified healthcare providers will continue. What will salaries look like in 2021, particularly for FQHC care providers?
Trends Affecting Healthcare Salaries in 2021
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports that nine of 10 FQHCs are providing COVID-19 tests. These health centers stepped up early during the pandemic to offer these services, along with ramping up telemedicine virtual visits to continue to provide care to their communities. These facilities had an important role in responding to the pandemic, particularly in communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19
Despite this, the KFF says these facilities report steep declines in patient visits of 43% since the pandemic started. Additionally, 11% of health center staff are not working due to their exposure to the virus, a lack of PPEs, or other complicating factors.
FQHCs and community health providers received $100 million in funding this spring and summer to help counteract these trends. Despite this, KFF says there were nearly 2,000 temporary health center closures early in the summer. They point out that this temporary aid for these providers only covered about 7% of total health center revenues. KFF says, “The effects of patient declines and staffing issues could have major implications for health centers even after the pandemic.”
For clinics already operating on razor-thin budgets, the question as to whether this was enough was certainly valid. By September, Kaufman Hall reported operating margins for U.S. hospitals were down 90% in the first eight months of 2020. How have these troubling trends affected the salary outlook for clinical providers in 2021?
Job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter suggest the current average salaries at FQHCs are:
- Family Medicine Physician $200,000
- Family Nurse Practitioner $110,529
- Psychiatric Nurse $140,351
- Registered Nurse $ 83,644
Salary.com suggests the average executive salary at an FQHC is $221,931.The mid-year Medscape Physician Compensation Report reported that the national average for Pediatric Physicians at the bottom of the specialist chart at $232,000. Interestingly they found public health and preventative medicine providers experienced the highest pay increase this year, averaging 11%.
2020 has been a time of unprecedented changes, many of which we simply haven’t seen before in the healthcare field. There is no recent historical data to inform the outlook for community hospitals next year. COVID-19 remains the great unknown for the American healthcare system. Perhaps that is why, to date, we’ve not seen specific salary expectations published predicting 2021. We do not know how the fall and winter will impact inpatient care and hospital finances. We also do not yet know how a new federal administration will impact crisis funding for our nation’s safety net of FQHC providers around the nation.
One thing is certain—UHC Solutions will continue to provide our clients with the best clinical and administrative teams to help them weather the storms ahead. Contact our team today for more information.