An issue that’s often not well understood or talked about is the existence of a pay gap between genders for equal performance of the same role or task. It is a phenomenon that tends to be pervasive across industries but some are more open than others in acknowledging the issue and putting forth progressive plans and tools to address it. For our busy and hardworking physicians across the country, medical billing is an important component of their business practices. And while on paper there is no reason that the fee-for-service system Canadian medical professionals use should result in lesser pay for any particular group of practitioners, recent research by the CMAJ Group has yet again shown that, unfortunately, this is not the case. Looking to learn more about how a gender pay gap has emerged in our current medical billing system, we want to highlight the findings of the newest research on this very important topic and, more importantly, how to start down a path to get everyone back on a level playing field.

Gender Inequalities are Prevalent in all Healthcare Systems

Since the beginning of modern healthcare, gender inequities have posed increased challenges for women looking to become medical professionals. Historically, with restricted access to medical education to limited support to those who completed their training, many female physicians had to overcome multiple obstacles in order to run their medical practice. But even now, with more female representation in medicine than ever before, research shows that on average, male physicians consistently bill more than their female counterparts. And while this gender pay gap has multiple possible causes, complex and opaque medical billing may be partially to blame.

What the Research Shows Us

In 2019, a comprehensive study by the Ontario Medical Association pointed towards male physicians billing 15.6% more when providing the same procedures as their female counterparts. More recently, independently building on this body of research, CMAJ Group conducted research into the billing practices and potential causes of the gender pay gap between female and male physicians practicing in Ontario. Conducted as a cross-sectional analysis, information was collected about all of the Ontario physicians who submitted claims through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). In total, over 30,000 physicians’ claims were analyzed in this study, including 17,992 male physicians and 12,175 female medical professionals.

The results are even more dramatic.

  1. Women are more likely to underbill for their services
    Over the course of a year, the medical billing habits of this cohort of physicians were monitored and recorded. The results of this experiment showed that female medical professionals on average claimed 74% of the estimated payments that their male counterparts did when performing similar procedures. Looking at Figure 1 below, visually it becomes quite evident that there is a clear right skew to the data in favour of male physicians earning materially higher payments.
Figure 1: Distribution of physician payments, stratified by gender
  1. Male medical professionals claim more throughout their careers
    While research has shown that male physicians were already more likely to bill higher amounts for their services at the beginning of their career, it appears this is a trend that persists over time. According to this study’s analysis, male physicians with 10-15 years of experience in the industry show the largest gap in what they charge versus what their female colleagues of the same vintage charge. This is troubling as it means that the aggregate value difference over the lifetime physician billing cycle is compounded and drawn out in such a way that the gap is never really able to close.

  2. The gender pay gap is an issue across all areas of healthcare
    While the fee-for-service billing system is most commonly associated with surgical and anesthesia services, it is commonly used in a variety of different medical specialties. Assessed in this study, it appears that the gender pay gap is a present and persistent concern in all areas of healthcare. Major adjustments and assessments to our current healthcare system are needed to provide better support and to fairly financially compensate our female medical professionals.

Figure 2: Distribution of physician payment by healthcare specialty and gender

ResolvMD Wants to Help Bridge the Gap

ResolvMD is focused on surfacing data and knowledge that will help to close the gap. All medical professionals deserve to be compensated fairly for their hard work, regardless of their gender.

Our Physician Insight Portal acts as a dedicated billing coach - helping physicians discover best practices and improve the accuracy of their billing codes through relevant benchmarking. Using machine learning and data analysis to provide detailed insights, opportunities and guidance, our portal can help any physician be as confident in billing as they are in their practice. We hope that this resource can be an invaluable resource for female and male medical professionals alike, working towards reducing the gender pay gap that currently limits many Canadian physicians today.

Connect With Us

Want to learn more about our billing services and physician insights portal? We would be happy to connect with you!

About ResolvMD:

ResolvMD is an experienced full service medical billing company that empowers physicians to bill more efficiently through data-derived insights and democratized knowledge. We believe you should be as confident and competent in your billing as you are in your practice. Our proprietary Physician Insights Portal harnesses the power of data to deliver customized insights directly to you in real time. No more second guessing or feeling like you don’t have the transparency and accountability that you deserve. Paired with the most modern and secure platform on the market, you can rest easy knowing that we are taking care of all your billing needs while fine tuning your ability to understand best practices and earn what you deserve.