Owens says the costs of any particular locum tenens physician will vary depending upon the specialty, the need, and the geographic areas. "But oftentimes hospitals are able to capture all of the expenses by billing for third-party billers, Medicare, Medicaid, or private pay," she says. "So, the expense would come in sometimes with the travel and hotel costs of putting up a temporary person. But by and large they are able to recuperate through reimbursements the fees they charge for locums."
Owens says the number of locum tenens physicians in the United States has grown in recent years because many physicians find the temporary work satisfying.
"More and more physicians are looking for a different lifestyle that locums provides," she says. "If we look back just five or six years ago there were probably about 26,000 locums. Now we are estimating there are about 38,000. You think about the demands of the practice environment and doctors are trying to find more flexibility for their schedules first of all. Secondarily, they want to avoid the politics that exist in hospitals nowadays. They get to keep their hand in medicine, and not in the business of medicine."