It is no secret that Illinois is home to some pretty exorbitant taxes that often drive many from the state. There is a full-on exodus happening right now, with many more people leaving the state annually then entering. But some may be more affected by the state of Illinois’ fiscal challenges. Are you thinking about becoming a doctor? Or are you just starting out? Maybe you should carefully consider your long-term options and perhaps find a more medical profession-friendly state.
A report by the WalletHub showed that Illinois stands as 40th in the ranking of best states to practice medicine. 40th! Our neighbor, Wisconsin, is ranked as number 2! But why such a ravine between such close states?
Malpractice insurance is one major reason for the lower ranking. Illinois doctors are required to pay extremely high amounts of malpractice insurance, landing in the tens of thousands every year. This high cost is around twice the amount doctors require in Wisconsin. The year-to-year liability insurance can cost a doctor $34,000. These costs make Illinois less attractive as a place to settle down to practice.
Another reason that could become a strain on high-earning professions is Governor Pritzker’s proposed change from a flat tax to a graduated income tax. This would take the current flat rate tax of 4.75% to a variable rate depending on the level of income. Earners of over $250,000 per year, where many doctors would fall, will have almost double the state income tax percentage under Pritzker’s proposed plan. This change is advanced despite the constitutional amendment passed in 1970 that mandated a flat incomes tax where everyone paid the same rate (meaning high-income earners paid more taxes than lower wage earners).
Illinois is not a bad state to be a nurse however, it ranks number 20 out of all of the states. There has even been a new bill proposed in the General Assembly, the Safe Patient Limits bill, which will benefit nurses further. This bill would open up even more opportunities to nurses in Illinois, requiring specific minimum staffing ratios of nurses to patients. The flip-side to this proposal is that hospitals will bear the brunt of this mandate and see their costs rise. It should be noted that the Illinois General Assembly is not slowing down one bit in its regulating activities.
It is also no surprise that Illinois is much more friendly of a state for teachers and municipal employees, such as policeman and fireman. Ranking at the 4th best state to teach, and the 7th best state to be on the police force. This is due to the high starting salaries that these professions are offered as well as very high, though largely unfunded, pension promises.
I have often said that Illinois is fast becoming a state with two distinctive economies – a public one that is growing, and a private one that is rapidly shrinking. The problem, however, is that the public economy is dependent upon the private economy to survive. But that relationship has been upended with the continuing exodus of private citizens, businesses and their money. Illinois’s medical standards and quality of health care are quite good, but the state’s governing environment and fiscal challenges may be driving doctors away; just as it is other high-end wage earners and businesses. The high cost of practice and overall taxing in Illinois may soon be costing Illinois one of its most necessary service providers: it’s talented doctors. This area should be looked at very closely by Illinois lawmakers … before it’s too late.