According to a recent survey, it has been a concerning year for allergists. The survey included 17,903 respondents, detailing income, hours spent working, patient volume, and other measures of career satisfaction. 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 hours). 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. Close to one-half (45%) believed it will take 2-3 years to return to this level of income.

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 despite this. 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.