Ask the Experts

Are Doctors Paid Too Much?

Posted by Anonymous at 12/15/2017 10:45:14 AM

Physician Compensation and Healthcare Costs

Are Doctors Paid Too Much?

 By Phillip Miller

Over the years, a number of academics, policy advisors and other observers of the health care scene have looked at rising health care costs and have concluded that physicians in America are paid too much.

After all, the U.S. spends over $3 trillion each year on healthcare, more than the gross domestic product of all but a handful of the world’s countries. Given that enormous number, physician pay must be way out of line, the reasoning goes.

The fact is, physician payments comprise about 20 percent of the healthcare spending pie, and that is before physicians themselves deduct their expenses. The lion’s share of healthcare spending pays for hospital care, pharmaceuticals, various non-physician clinicians, home care, administration and other services. If payments to doctors were cut by 20 percent, the effect would be to reduce overall healthcare spending by only 2 percent.

That is one of several telling points made in an article appearing in written by Walker Ray and Timothy Norbeck of The Physicians Foundation, a not-for-profit organization of physicians and medical society leaders dedicated enhancing the health system for patients and physicians (disclosure: Merritt Hawkins conducts a national survey of physicians on behalf of The Physicians Foundation).

Another point the authors make comes down to value. Doctors spend four years in college, four years in medical school, three to seven years in residency training and potentially more years in fellowships in order to gain the skills needed to save lives. Maybe your life, maybe your child’s life. They also provide a major stimulus to the economy, generating $2.2 million in economic output and supporting 14 jobs each (National Economic Impact of Physicians. American Medical Association/IMS Health, March, 2014).

Whatever income physicians make, they earn, and then some.

The article concludes with a painful truth. High healthcare costs in this country are not driven by doctors, they are driven by us, their patients. Poor dietary choices and poor fitness habits, more prevalent here than in many countries to which the U.S. is compared, are key causes of healthcare spending. Poverty rates, also critical drivers of spending, are higher in the U.S. than in most industrialized nations.

Those looking to find a culprit for America’s high health care bill should look elsewhere. It’s not physicians. I would be happy to hear from readers who may concur or have a contrasting point of view.

Phillip Miller is Vice President of Communication for Merritt Hawkins and Staff Care, companies of AMN Healthcare. He can be reached here.

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How about pharma execs/hospital ceo and insurance executives. Per capita salaries for these people is MUCH higher
Posted by: John H at 1/4/2018 10:07:35 AM
I could not agree with this article more. We spent a significant part of our lives to acquire our degrees along with significant debt due to students loans. No other profession has the amount of debt associated with acquiring these degrees. Not to mention the mental stress and shear determination in order to to acquire them. The place to reduce costs would be from the health insurance company’s themselves. They are the cause of the problem. They fleece both the doctors and the patients. When have you heard of an insurance company’ loosing money? Doesn’t happen! They always win in the end
Posted by: Dr Eric Maser at 1/4/2018 1:08:03 PM
I completely agree with the author of this article. Physicians put in so much to gain the necessary knowledge and skill to save lives and in my opinion are not well rewarded for it when compared to administrative/CEOs who barely put in as much effort, less training, less responsibility, less oversights and risk of getting sued etc. The plumber makes more per hour these days compared to many physicians.
Posted by: Cyriacus Anaele, MD at 1/6/2018 2:19:26 AM

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