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How Much Does a Joint Surgeon Get Paid for Each Joint They Replace? The Answer May Surprise You!

Daniel Paull, MD explains that joint surgeons get paid much less than many would think. Much, much less.

March 26, 2024

I spoke to a family physician a few weeks back, about how much a joint surgeon makes for a joint replacement.

I was telling him that the average amount that Medicare pays for a joint replacement was about $1,400.

He was absolutely flabbergasted. He thought they made multiples of that.

I then told him that the $1,400 also includes rounding in the hospital (if done inpatient), and all care for the global 3 month period after the surgery.

Still incredulous, I told him about how some joint surgeons tell me that their take home after overhead comes out to around $250 per joint.

 

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Joints always seem to be hit pretty hard by Medicare cuts, as they have a large target on their back due to the aging of the boomer generation.

In response to decreasing reimbursements, joint surgeons have become more efficient: outpatient replacements, no more sending the patient to rehab centers for weeks at a time, minimal PT, opioid sparing surgeries, spinal anesthesia etc.

The thing is, there isn’t much more efficiency left to gain. One joint surgeon can only do so many joints in a given time period. A lot of these guys and gals are already at maximum capacity.

So they will continue to toil away while reimbursements get cut every single year.

 

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So what will happen?

My best guess is that they will just increase their patient volume and resultant complaining.

I bet if Medicare paid $100 instead of $1400 total for a joint replacement most of these guys would have no answer for it. Even if they lost money.

It would just leave them open to corporate takeovers or maybe hospital salaried positions.

But possibly a minority will just stop doing them. Who knows.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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One Response

  1. My hesitation to getting joint replacement surgery has been fear. Being in healthcare myself, I usually vet the surgeon, especially for myself.
    How do we expect optimal care if the surgeon is not valued by the organization for which he/she works? How can the healthcare system bring in the “ best” doctors for their system? And how do we know that physicians will not be rushed to get to the next patient??
    Absolutely a shame the healthcare system expects maximum results with minimal risk!

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