Health Care Expenditures Attributable to Primary Care Physician Overall and Burnout-Related Turnover: A Cross-sectional Analysis



To estimate the excess health care expenditures due to US primary care physician (PCP) turnover, both overall and specific to burnout.


We estimated the excess health care expenditures attributable to PCP turnover using published data for Medicare patients, calculated estimates for non-Medicare patients, and the American Medical Association Masterfile. We used published data from a cross-sectional survey of US physicians conducted between October 12, 2017, and March 15, 2018, of burnout and intention to leave one’s current practice within 2 years by primary care specialty to estimate excess expenditures attributable to PCP turnover due to burnout. A conservative estimate from the literature was used for actual turnover based on intention to leave. Additional publicly available data were used to estimate the average PCP panel size and the composition of Medicare and non-Medicare patients within a PCP’s panel.


Turnover of PCPs results in approximately $979 million in excess health care expenditures for public and private payers annually, with $260 million attributable to PCP burnout-related turnover.


Turnover of PCPs, including that due to burnout, is costly to public and private payers. Efforts to reduce physician burnout may be considered as one approach to decrease US health care expenditures.

One of the more pervasive and prevent-able sources of disruptions to patient care is the occupational syndrome of burnout. The consequences of physician burnout are wide-ranging and include…

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