Practicing medicine continues to be complex and challenging — often to the detriment of physicians' personal financial matters. In fact, 50 percent of physicians believe their profession has more complicated financial needs than other professions for the following reasons:

  • Begin careers later than other professionals (84 percent)
  • Concerned about malpractice and other liability risks (56 percent)
  • Delayed savings because of medical school debt repayment (53 percent)
  • Lack of time to spend learning about financial issues (51 percent)
  • Not as financially savvy as other professions (28 percent)

AMA Insurance's 2014 Report on U.S. Physicians' Financial Preparedness surveyed more than 1,000 employed physicians and tracked key personal financial areas and employee retirement savings.

Funding long-term care expenses was identified as a new key concern in this year's report. Employed physicians now comprising 59 percent of all American physicians have their own set of personal financial challenges, due in part to their employment status:

  • 42 percent consider themselves behind where they'd like to be in terms of saving for retirement
  • 44 percent report having less than $500,000 saved for retirement; however, 70 percent have an emergency fund set aside
  • 54 percent are very or somewhat concerned about being able to fund long-term care expenses; 33 percent are unsure how they will pay such expenses
  • 76 percent have life insurance, and 74 percent have disability insurance through their employers; half of employed physicians report that their employer pays their disability premiums
  • 57 percent use the services of a professional financial advisor, and they are more confident and on track with their personal finances and retirement savings. These physicians also have more emergency savings and more diverse financial investments.

The top long-term financial goal for employed physicians is to provide a comfortable retirement, followed by funding long-term health needs, but their busy schedules leave little time for examining their personal finances. Although a challenge, focusing on these elements of financial preparedness can help them gain a better threshold for retirement by saving, planning and protecting their incomes.

The survey was sent to approximately 125,000 physicians in the United States in June. The results include 2,072 physicians ages 30-69 years who are 62 percent male and 38 percent female. The physicians work in group practices and hospitals (50 percent), small or mid-sized practices (20 percent), medical schools(16 percent) and foundations, industry or government (10 percent).