Working in emergency room medicine, you often treat patients with serious illnesses or injuries. The effects of whatever brings people to an ER is often serious enough to keep them away from work for months, years, or even permanently.
Have you considered what would happen if you were the patient who suffered an disabling injury or illness and couldn’t work as an ER physician?
Without a disability insurance policy, a disability could mean a massive loss of income. Disability insurance is designed to replace a major portion of your income if you are unable to work due to injury or illness.
ER doctors have a lot to lose
According to salary.com, the median income for an emergency room doctor is currently just under $275,000, with a range typically between $234,355 and $322,113. The Medscape 2017 Physician Compensation Report shows an average annual salary of $339,000 for ER physicians. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) shows even higher averages in certain parts of the country, especially in the southeast U.S., where the average annual salary ranges from $395,000 to $451,000. ACEP noted that emergency physician salaries have increased 31 percent in the past 10 years.
It’s likely that you have a lifestyle that matches your income. Without disability insurance to replace that income, you would not be able to maintain that lifestyle. Plus, ER physicians have few to no options for replacement careers that come close to paying what they make.
In addition, you may have a mortgage and other debts that still need to be paid. Without your current income, it’s unlikely you can keep your home and car. Plus, you likely racked up significant student loan debt to train for your current profession, debt that will likely not be forgiven just because you’re disabled.
With all that you, as a resident or practicing ER medical professional, have to lose, it’s highly encouraged that you own disability insurance.
The best disability insurance companies for surgeons
Insurers that specialize in disability insurance for physicians will separate different medical specialties into occupational classes based on the perceived risk of that specific specialty. Generally, the higher the occupational classification assigned to your profession, the lower the premium rate.
Emergency medical physicians are considered high-risk. Five of the six major providers of physicians disability insurance rates the profession as a 3.
Below is an overview of how the best disability insurance companies classify emergency room physicians and the expected cost:
INSERT RATE CHART
The need for own-occupation and residual disability
In addition to comparing rates between insurers, it’s important to review each company’s own-occupation and residual disability features.
Having an own-occupation provision is critical for ER doctors. And it’s especially important that ER physicians understand the definition of the policy’s own-occupation provision.
Own-occupation defines a disability as one that prevents you from working in your chosen specialty, even if you’re healthy enough to do other work. For example, if a back injury keeps you from working in an ER but allows you to work in a family practice clinic, a policy with an own-occupation will pay a benefit based on difference in income between your ER salary and your family practice income.
Residual disability is similar in nature. It is generally defined as being able to perform one or more, but not all, of the material and substantial duties of your occupation, or unable to work in your occupation for a set percentage of time. This would mean that you can still practice ER medicine but may be limited on how many hours you can work.
Residual disability benefits are triggered when the insured suffers an established percentage loss of income because of their disability. The benefit you receive under the provision is typically proportionate to your lost earning power.