According to a survey of more than 17,000 respondents, it has been a concerning year for allergists. Results indicate that allergists’ bottom line was hit fairly hard in 2020. Of all the issues that could have caused a decline in their revenue, 96% cited reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns regarding the safety of their employees and patients.

In 2020, the average income for allergists was $274,000, a reduction from the 2019 average income of $301,000. More than one-half of allergists (55%) reported a reduction in compensation, whereas physician incomes overall showed little variance, even with the pandemic. Despite the lower average income for allergists, as a whole, survey respondents reported a greater number of hours worked per week (6 or 7 additional). They also saw a lower volume of patients, from an average of 74 per week to 65 per week, a decline of 12%. Many physicians attributed the increase in work hours—despite the decrease in patient volume—to their practice following pandemic-related safety protocols. Overall, 53% of allergists thought a drop in patient volume of up to 25% is likely to be permanent.

Nearly four in 10 allergists reported financial or practice-related negative effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but 83% believed their income will increase back to pre-pandemic levels in the coming years.

Among allergists, 83% said they would continue taking Medicare and Medicaid patients, with only 2% indicating they won’t take new Medicaid patients and about one-tenth remaining undecided about taking Medicare or Medicaid patients. In terms of payment models, 28% of allergists planned to use the Merit-Based Incentive System (MIPS), while 36% remained undecided, despite failure to participate in MIPS incurring a 9% penalty applied to all Medicare reimbursements.

Similar to last year’s survey, 55% (56% previously) of allergists felt adequately compensated despite the challenges they faced. Among survey participants, 26% cited the most difficult part of their job as receiving fair reimbursement, but a great majority found their job highly rewarding. Most allergists (86%) said they would choose the field of medicine again as their career path, with 87% indicating they would choose the same specialty.