Annual compensation for physicians and surgeons in the U.S. continued to increase overall last year, according to the Medscape Physicians Compensation Report 2023. However, the surgical specialists with the highest salaries are also on the list of the most often sued for medical malpractice. As a trusted medical malpractice insurance broker, SURGPLI helps surgeons in high-risk specialties obtain robust liability coverage to protect against severe financial loss in case of a lawsuit. Get a quote now.

Plastic surgeons were #1 earners in 2023

More than 10,000 physicians in 29 specialties participated in Medscape’s survey, which revealed that average annual earnings for specialists in particular have increased overall in the past five years from an average of $299,000 to $382,000.

According to the Medscape report, the top-earning surgical specialties in 2023 were:

  • Plastic Surgery                           $619k
  • Orthopedics                                $573k
  • Cardiology                                   $507k
  • Urology                                        $506k
  • Gastroenterology                       $501k
  • Otolaryngology                           $485k
  • Plastic Surgery                           $619k
  • Orthopedics                                $573k
  • Cardiology                                   $507k
  • Urology                                        $506k
  • Gastroenterology                       $501k
  • Otolaryngology                           $485k

Among the top 10 specialists who also earned incentive bonuses are radiologists, general surgeons, anesthesiologists, and OB/GYNs. Medscape’s data analysts noted that this trend in increased compensation and bonuses reflects the ongoing demand for surgeons across the U.S. 

Healthcare organizations are offering higher salaries and incentives to attract the best candidates to fill open positions. However, the survey found that self-employed physicians earned more on average overall than their employed counterparts – $374k versus $344k annually.

Best U.S. states for higher salaries

Where you practice medicine also makes a difference in earning power. According to Medscape’s findings, healthcare professionals practicing in the following states earned the highest average salaries:

  • Wisconsin              $397,000
  • Indiana                   $372,000
  • Georgia                   $363,000
  • Connecticut           $362,000
  • Missouri                 $361,000
  • New Jersey $360,000
  • South Carolina $360,000
  • Florida $359,000
  • California $358,000
  • Michigan $356,000

Over half of the physicians surveyed by Medscape are “satisfied” with their compensation. However, approximately 40% of the respondents indicated that they took on additional jobs to supplement their income.

Why top-earning surgeons need top-rated medical malpractice coverage

Even the highest-paid surgeons need robust medical malpractice insurance from an A-rated carrier, especially those whose specialties make them more vulnerable to malpractice allegations due to performing high-risk surgical procedures: neurosurgery, orthopedics, bariatric surgery, plastic surgery, OB/GYN, and general surgery. 

Also, be aware of several trends that will likely lead to higher premium rates in 2024, as well as potentially higher risk of financial loss for defendants in liability lawsuits:

  • “Mega” jury verdict awards of $10 million or more to plaintiffs have become more frequent, with awards in 40 cases in eight U.S. states totaling nearly $2 billion (Healthcare Liability Market Update, Powered by MedPro Group).
  • Legal defense costs have escalated for insurance carriers defending policyholders in liability lawsuits.
  • “Social inflation” or changing attitudes and beliefs about medical malpractice litigation, entitlement to compensation for injuries, and the parties involved (“Medical Malpractice Claims and Impact of Social Inflation”, The Doctors Company).

Contact us and learn how SURGPLI can help you save on medical malpractice insurance.

Reach out to SURGPLI for the best liability coverage and rates.

SURGPLI will help you secure strong medical malpractice coverage from A-rated carriers to protect your earning power and practice in case of a liability lawsuit. Our SURGPLI brokers will save you time and money by researching the policy, competitive rate, and A-rated carrier options that specifically meet the coverage requirements of your specialty and practice location. They’ll review quotes, payment options, and any policy discounts available so you can make a well-informed choice of carrier and coverage. Request a quote today.

Call us at 1-800-969-1339 or email us at

Contact us for a free evaluation or TAIL INSURANCE quote

First Step - Step 1 of 2