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Three Great Lakes states rank in top 10 for doctors

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa are among the top 10 best states in the nation for doctors, according to a new report from WalletHub.

Illinois placed 34th, and Indiana ranked 10th. Michigan was 18th.

Doctors are among the highest paid and most educated professionals in the nation. General physicians have a median annual salary of at least $208,000, which offsets the challenge of medical school debt, which, on average, is about $202,000, the report said.

Seventy percent of the report was based on opportunity and competition measures, which included annual wages, adjusted for cost of living; average monthly starting salaries adjusted for cost of living; hospitals per capita; employer-based insurance rates; projected percentage of people who will be at least 65 years old by 2030; projected per capita number of physicians by 2030; continuing education requirements; and presence of interstate medical licensure compact. The remaining 30% of the report assessed measures that included quality of public health system, hospitals safety, physician burnout, malpractice awards and presence of national accredited health departments.

Wisconsin had the second-best opportunity and competition and the 15th best medical environment. Minnesota had the 14th best opportunity and competition and the sixth best medical environment. Iowa had the sixth-best opportunity and competition and the 35th best medical environment. While Michigan placed 18th overall, it’s the third-best state for opportunity and competition.

The three states have among the least expensive annual malpractice liability insurance. Wisconsin ranks second, and Minnesota’s third. Iowa has the ninth-lowest rate. Minnesota has the fifth least punitive state medical board.

New York Medical College public health professor Adam Block said in the report that a state’s public policy regarding Medicare has an enormous impact on medical professionals.

“In states with expansive Medicaid programs and relatively high reimbursement rates, providers often build practices around treating these populations,” he said. “In states where Medicaid reimbursement rates are lower, providers are often reluctant to build practices around these populations and seek a mix of patients or exclude Medicaid patients completely.”

Block said doctors might get paid more in areas with lower costs of living, rather than major metropolitan areas, because there’s less competition. Doctors should look at both competitive pay and cost of living, and determine how to adapt to changes in science, electronic medical records rules and insurance/reimbursement rules.

“Statistically, most physicians can expect to be sued at some point in their careers,” he said. “These suits can often be for what people least suspect.”

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine bioethics professor Maxwell Mehlman said he believes the doctors’ greatest challenge currently is loss of professionalism. Doctors are under pressure from their employers and practice owners.

“These pressures preclude them from advocating for their patient’s welfare due to lack of time and concerns about annoying their employers/practice owners,” Mehlman said.

Montana, South Dakota and Idaho placed first, second and third, respectively, overall. Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska were the worst states for doctors, according to the report.

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