Primary Care Doctors See a Shift in Salaries

June 23, 2006 -- 6:37 PM CDT

PARAGOULD, AR -- A new health survey shows that primary care doctors' salaries have declined.

Dr. Barry Hendrix of Paragould said that he doesn't practice primary care medicine because of the salary.

"We do what we do because that's what we choose to do, and we like it," said Hendrix.

He said that business has been going well at his office in Paragould, but he has felt a pinch when it comes to reduced payments by the insurance companies.

"Insurance rates have affected us (doctors) in some cases dramatically," said Hendrix.  "It's not to the point to where I have to quit doing what I do, but it's not that far away."

Doctors at the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, but reports show that private practitioners accross the United States are starting to not accept these patients, but Dr. Hendrix said he will continue to accept patients of this caliber.

"I find it hard to tell people no sometimes, and perhaps that's my own fault, but it's not their fault that they're sick," said Hendrix.

He also said that there are many things that the state of Arkansas can do to lend a helping hand.

"Arkansas has a budget surplus.  It has been years since Arkansas Medicaid had an increase in reimbursement," he said.  "That would be helpful...helpful to every primary care doctor...helpful to our hospitials."

Until help arrives, doctors like Hendrix will continue to be available for patients when they need them most.