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January 6, 2021

In physician employment contracts, cash isn’t necessarily king

Remember to ask about health insurance, relocation expenses, life insurance, and signing bonuses when inquiring about your physician contract.

Imagine you have two employment contracts in front of you extending offers for virtually identical positions with health systems in the same city. One contract offers an excellent salary and bonus. The second offers a salary that’s $30,000 lower than the first. Both organizations foster an attractive company culture and present opportunities for growth.

So, what would motivate anyone to consider - or even accept - the second offer?

Well, the second offer could actually be worth more than the offer with a higher annual salary. Benefits and other perks that don’t increase a physician’s paycheck can still add tens of thousands of dollars in value to an overall compensation package. A practice may offer any or all of the following perks to sweeten the deal they’re offering you. If they haven’t made these offers, consider asking for them, especially if you’ve hit a wall in your salary negotiation.

Negotiate health insurance coverage

Consider negotiating for health insurance coverage for you and your family. Family health insurance coverage covered by an employer could equal savings to the tune of $20,000 annually.

Consider budgeting for professional development

Employers may be willing to create a budget for professional development that elevates you as a professional and creates value for the organization. For example, a practice may see the value in having a board-certified physician on the team and pay for the board certification process. They may also pay for your medical license applications or the renewals of your medical license (a significant expense that many physicians shoulder themselves). An employer may also pay the dues for medical societies that you belong to or are looking to join; they could also create a CME (continuing medical education) allowance.

Ask about relocation expenses

When employers pay for relocation expenses, physicians stand to save thousands of dollars. Physicians can request that their new employer pay for a service to help pack their belongings (this is a thing), a moving company, mileage for the distance a physician drives in his or her own car to his or her new home, or plane fare. If you plan to ask for relocation, come up with a budget for what you think you’ll need so you have a specific figure in mind.

Ask about disability and life insurance

Two items that are less exciting, but represent significant value, are short or long-term disability insurance and life insurance. God forbid that something unexpected or terrible happens, the negotiating you did before signing your offer will mean that you and your family have a safety net.

Paid vacation doesn’t put cash in your pocket, or save you money, but can you put a price tag on the restorative benefits of having an extra week or two off every year?

Last but not least - ask signing bonuses

Finally, physicians can negotiate for a signing bonus - a one-time flat fee that says "Welcome to the team," but sounds like a cash register.

To learn more about negotiating a well-rounded compensation package, and other elements of a "home-run" employment contract, watch this video interview with attorney Bruce Armon. Armon specializes in health care law, specifically employment contracts for both physicians and healthcare employers.

 



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