Study Shows Physicians Play Vital Role in Massachusetts Economy

WALTHAM — A recently released study by the American Medical Assoc. (AMA) shows that physicians play a vital role in the Massachusetts economy by supporting jobs, purchasing goods and services, and generating tax revenue. The report calculated that physicians contribute $31.7 billion in economic output, representing 8.7{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of Massachusetts GDP, and support more than 112,000 jobs in the state.

The study, the State-Level Economic Impact of Office-Based Physicians Report, was conducted for the AMA by The Lewin Group, a national health-care-policy-research- and management-consulting group based in Virginia, and reported on the economic impact of nearly 20,000 office-based physicians in the Commonwealth for the year 2009.

Alice Coombs, M.D., President of the Mass. Medical Society, said. “as the state’s number-one industry, health care plays the leading role in the economic well-being of Massachusetts. This latest report clearly demonstrates that physicians contribute enormously to the economic health of our communities and the state, as well as to the personal and public health of our residents.”

The research found that 19,550 Massachusetts office-based physicians:

  • support 112,224 jobs, with an average of 5.7 jobs supported per physician;
  • generate $31.7 billion in total sales revenue or economic output;
  • support $23.5 billion in total wages and benefits; and
  • generate $1.5 billion in total state and local tax revenues.

The report also calculated the economic impact of physicians in six metropolitan statistical areas, including areas that cross borders of Rhode Island and New Hampshire: Springfield; Barnstable County; Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-New Hampshire; Pittsfield; Providence-New Bedford-Fall River; and Worcester.

In Springfield, physicians accounted for $2 billion in economic output and 8,832 jobs; in Worcester, $2.2 billion in economic output and 10,663 jobs; in Pittsfield, $484 million and 2,184 jobs; and in Barnstable County, $578 million and 2,619 jobs.

In the Providence-New Bedford-Fall River area, the numbers totaled $5 billion in economic output and 20,038 jobs, and in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-New Hampshire region, $23.5 billion and 86,380 jobs.

Coombs stated that the report, while highlighting the economic impact of physicians, also emphasizes the critical need to improve the physician practice environment in the state.

“Massachusetts continues to be affected by a poor physician practice environment,” Coombs said, “and that creates physician shortages and reduced access to care. A good physician-practice environment produces many benefits. Patients will have more and better access to care, the state will have a stronger economy, and we will be better able to recruit and retain physicians to enhance our health care delivery.”

Coombs said medical society annual evaluations have consistently found shortages in many physician specialties, as well as a continuing poor practice environment. The Society’s Physician Practice Environment Index, a statistical indicator of nine factors that shape the environment in which physicians provide patient care, has fallen in 16 of the past 18 years, and since 1992 has declined by 26.4{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}, significantly more than the 21.3{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} decline in the comparable national index. The index takes into account such factors as the cost of maintaining a practice, median physician income, liability insurance rates, and hours spent on patient care.

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