Are Physicians Paid Too Much?

That’s the provocative question posed in and article in today’s NYTimes Week In Review section — click here.

How to fix the health care system? Easy, liberals say. If Washington would just force cuts in prescription drug prices and insurance company profits, plenty of money would be left over to cover the uninsured. Conservatives prefer to argue that the answer lies in forcing people to pay more of their own medical costs.

But many health care economists say both sides are wrong. These economists, some of whom are also doctors, say the partisan fight over insurers and drug makers is a distraction from a bigger problem: the relatively high salaries paid to American doctors, and even more importantly, the way they are compensated.

“I always find it ironic that when I go to doctor groups and such, they always talk about the cost of prescription drugs,” said Dana Goldman, director of health economics at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institute in Santa Monica, Calif. Prescription drugs cost, on average, 30 percent to 50 percent more in the United States than in Europe. But the difference in doctors’ salaries is far larger, Dr. Goldman said.

Doctors in the United States earn two to three times as much as they do in other industrialized countries. Surveys by medical-practice management groups show that American doctors make an average of $200,000 to $300,000 a year. Primary care doctors and pediatricians make less, between $125,000 and $200,000, but in specialties like radiology, physicians can take home $400,000 or more. In Europe, however, doctors made $60,000 to $120,000 in 2002, according to a survey sponsored by the British government in 2004.

We’ve previously highlighted research showing that we pay much more for just about everything in the US health care system — click here for 2/21/07 posting. So why should physician pay be different? Question is: what can we do to change the underlying dynamics that keep costs increasing so relentlessly?

Pay physicians by salary? Ain’t gonna happen.

Decapitate physician payment rates? Don’t hold your breath.

Change the financial incentives underlying physician reimbursement? Now we’re talking. For some of our ideas, see HCFA’s cost control agenda.

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67 Responses to Are Physicians Paid Too Much?

  1. Way Overpaid says:

    Most people agree that pay should be tied to performance, for either a product or a service. Herein lies the biggest fault of medical care in the USA, the disconnect between the two. Read any self-help medical book (often written by M.D.s) and you realize that most of the medical conditions that average people encounter are usually treated with rest, OTC anti-inflammatory, and maybe some light physical therapy. In other words, doctors CANNOT cure most major medical conditions, but they will charge you excessively to diagnose what you have and then just send you on your way with a bottle of over priced prescription pills.

    How would a doctor feel if their auto mechanic said, “We looked at your car’s ball joint and it is torn due to age and we cannot fix it so just take it easy around the corners.” Would anyone pay $120/hour for such expert car diagnostic advice without a real fix? Why do doctors get away with this practice, because they paid too much for medical school education or because a big ego is part of the degree?

    Actually, it is the result of a monopoly on medical care that prevents lesser degrees from giving less expensive medical advice. Yes, heart surgery will always be pricey, but basic care stuff is priced artifically high due to the medical monopoly. Most of us middle-aged and older males have figured this out after a few trips to the doctor and so we read self-help stuff for knowledge and pain relief and save our time and money for better things.

    We as a society teach our children that doctors cure all our ailments (that is why they are paid so much, right?) and so don’t worry about starting your kids in sports at age 3. Sad that these same kids will likely suffer from arthritis at age 35-45 with no real “fix.” If anything, we should say to kids the human body is fragile and it doesn’t heel perfectly from breaks and tears. Everyone should avoid preventable injuries and overuse activities (especially when young and growing), so that the body will be relatively pain free later in life! Yes, the turtle does win this race!

    I really hope that the best and brightest in higher education programs are in medical research, because that is where the real promise lies.

  2. AK says:

    Dear misguided PhD commenting above.

    Meandering for 10 years in a useless grad program does not equal learning a productive trade or being able to provide meaningful work in society. Sorry, wasting your time doesn’t mean you should be paid more.

    Plus, when is the last time, unless you are a procrastinator, did you spend 40 hour shifts and 110+ hour weeks in your training. And I am sure when your experimental rats seemed to have low self esteem, it was quite stressful showing compassion, much like telling a family at 3:00 am in the morning that their loved one is not making it.

    Going beyond the disparaties of meaningful hard work versus how many semesters you can rack up, take a look at a doctor’s daily life. Most weekends are spent at work. Literally hundreds of life-altering decisions are made a day. The average work week is 60 hours. Being on call for emergencies are non-stop.

    While you are “researching” your next book destined for the Barnes and Nobles discount bin, only blame yourself for being a rambler than being focused and effective.

  3. Jeff says:

    I think I just lost 10-20 IQ points from reading most of the posts on this page 😦

  4. Charles says:

    Why cannot these money hungry bastards join wall street instead? Become marketing directors!Please do!
    Take money from who ever who is willing and not so willing, but not from people who come to you because we have no other options.
    Then there is this class of women who join the medical profession find a husband (to find a doctor husband)and quit. Pathetic waste of resources! What happened to thier cooked up applications!

  5. AB says:

    It is so sad to note that medical doctors have gotten vain and stupid to the point that they think they are the ones saving the lives. Seriously, I know pre-meds hate understanding things, but are you so damn dumb that you think its the medical practitioners that save lives and not the medical science? Are you serious? MDs are basically trained monkeys who do the application part of what has been produced by real scientists over the years.

    And its not just bioscientists. Take a look around you. The hospital you work in is made of materials developed by physicists and engineers. The same goes for the ambulance that brought in the patient and the blackberry that you were called on. Do you see the plastics that you use? Do you see the vast array of equipment that you use? Do you see your car, the jet plane, the satellite that sent your email? Do you run tests? Who figured out the chemistry behind that? Did you notice that your lab coat and your test tube is made of special materials? Have you wondered how your stethoscope works? Have you wondered how the electron microscope works? And you think…you save lives.

    Kudos to the person who noticed that research was just about “waiting” for the experiments to work. Yeah..imagine waiting for something to work out so that after 12 years of training, you can get a shot at entering a 7 year probation path to a $100k permanent job. Surely that can’t be stressful.

    Say you are being tested for cancer. You are asked to wait a month for the results. Surely that’s not stressful…just chill out for a month, right? How can waiting be stressful?

  6. Johnathan blaze says:

    Wrong. There’s nothing a doctor enjoys more than making money. If they happen to help someone in the process, then that’s just a bonus.

    I’ve been around doctors when they talk to each other. I know exactly how they operate. No pun intended.

  7. brian says:

    Mr. Blaze,

    Your “insightfull” commitary above truely shows that you are either bitter from actually paying a medical bill instead of playing the free healthcare card that many do, or you are truely ignorant of the reality of health care. In truth I am going to guess a little of both. I can understand your dilema in some way as the majority of the public gets thier information about doctors from others whom don’t devote their life to making others better, and usually these same people will never understand the sacrifice that I and many other physicians have, and continue to make financially, socially, and personally. Thats OK, you beleive sources like our fearless, misinformed, ignorant and dangerous leader Barack Hussein Obama who has his own agendas when he spreads his propeganda about physician reimbursements (remember the $30,000 per amputation speech what a schmuck). Allow me to let you in on a little secret, there is nothing a doctor likes more than saving a pts life and making a bad situation as good as possible – reguardless of pay. Often that means we have to employ the procedures modern medicine provides us with, these procedures cost money. I in over a decade of working with other physicans have NEVER heard a physician dictate a medical decision based on monitary reimbursement-even in private discussions while riding in our “BMWs” ( BTW….I drive a 99 nissian frontier and can barely afford my school loan bills). Infact about half of my patient population is uninsured and therefore I work for free 1/2 the time. (do you spend 50% of your time working for free Mr. Blaze?…Do you work?). Infact what I have heard is physician’s concerned that if they dont perform over the top procedures on terminally ill pts they fear litigation from family members questioning why a multimillion dollar effort wasnt put into saving the 85 year old obese diabtic vent dependant cardiac pt on dialysis. Do you think we are idiots? Do you think we cant tell when treatment of a patient changes from sensible and warrented to hopefull and excessive? Almost always, and I honestly can not think of a counter example, physicians base their decisions based on patient care and also unfortunetly fear of litigation. Mr. Blaze are you the kind of person whom would sue a doctor for not performing an “un-necessary costly procedure” on your loved one in the ICU, say a mundane central line, or greenfield filter, yet bitch when someone has to pay the bill, would you sue if these procedures were not done? – it just may be the meal ticket you are looking for. I will not repeat the numerous sacrifices I have made to be where I am, nor the huge stress that I deal with on a daily basis- those facts have already been cited earlier in this post, and if you havent walked the walk than no amount of words would make you understand.

  8. Sam says:

    Health care providers are people, too. Stop whining about their salaries; you are doing it out of spite and you all know it.

    Decreasing MD and PharmD salaries by 20k each (or even cutting them in half) will do almost nothing to your health care costs, but you still want to do it. Why so contempt? Worry about yourself instead about hoisting this flaming anger towards those who are doing what they love and being compensated well.

    If you don’t like their prices, just go elsewhere.

  9. John says:

    Take a look some of the reviews at http://www.talkburst.com/p/review/category/doctors-and-physicians/ and you’ll see a lot of the negative reviews mention something about the price being too high, so consumers seem to agree.

  10. Johnathan Blaze says:

    Doctors are financial rapists, pure and simple. The entire medical industry is corrupt and limits the supply of doctors so they can keep charging obscene rates. The years of schooling/training are far overshadowed by the obscene profits they make during their careers. Most doctors make more during their residencies than the average US salary. The way they complain about it you’d think they were getting nothing at all.

    Don’t get it twisted people, your doctor is a crook. When a cancer patient is rotting away in his hospital bed, doctors are looking at him with dollar signs in their eyes, thinking “CHA-CHING”. They can administer more nonsense procedures to him and bill it all to Medicare, which pays obscene rates (fixed by the AMA) for barely any work whatsoever.

    The insurance company is the middle man, allowing doctors to charge more than ever, and taking a cut along the way.

    The AMA even prevented medical schools from opening for 20 years, predicting there would be a “shortage”. “Do no harm?” Yeah, sure buddy. Financially raping me into bankrupcy for to pay your absurd fees doesn’t count as harm to you? What a crock.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-03-02-doctor-shortage_x.htm

  11. Riblantorgax says:

    To Lenny and James: nobody is saying that medicine isn’t a worthy profession, or trying to insult doctors here. Everything you two mention is a symptom of the problem, which could be alleviated by creating more competition and opening the market. Your crappy insurance isn’t paying the doctor enough? Why even file a claim? Pay the frigging doctor $50 out of your own pocket and tell him not to file a claim. It’s not illegal.

    Medical school is so expensive, once again, because of the medical cartel, which is part of the overall collegiate cartel which was indicted back in the early 90s for price fixing.

    Get insurance companies OUT of the medical marketplace. Create national arbitration for medical malpractice.

    Sorry, dudes, but Rachel above you hit the nail right on the head. Train more doctors and reform the AMA (there are several legal ways to do this.) Medical costs will go down, doctors’ pay will go up (because the insurance companies will no longer be taking the lion’s share of overall medical expenditures.)

  12. Rathrison says:

    Hold on people, we are talking about the noble souls who lie in thier medical applications that they like the medical profession so much that they want in at any cost of “hard work” and compromised wages for 7 years. That is the only problem here. Anyway, this tipping culture , maybe we can introduce tipping in hospitals too. Directly to doctor, wouldnt that give them an incentive to work well, just like we do to our waiters.
    FY1 have to be paid minimum wage in MOST states by the employer if the tips dont add up to minimum wage.

  13. Lenny d says:

    I agree with Mr.Cassidy. Eningeers, Scientists and Physicians should be making the most. Sometimes, judges, lawyers, accountants, even managers make more than the important fields. In NYC my insurance company paid my doctor $27 for an office visit. I felt like an a$$hole. Its embarrasing to give a doctor my shitty insurance. Its like telling the waiter you are not going to tip him before the food even comes out. Get ready for spit in your food america, because thats what we are doing to healthcare by complaining and dropping md costs. good job!

  14. James Cassidy says:

    If anyone thinks that there is too much money in medicine- go to med school, become a doctor, then charge patients less. I bet $100,000,000 that you will not be able to afford living expenses or continue to work unless you have an additional source of income.

  15. Ian says:

    It’s easy to say doctors are paid too much when you’re happily sitting on a blog bemoaning them.

    It’s a lot tougher to say that when the decision making of a tried and true professional physician who gave up 12 years of the prime of their life pursuing a noble career gives your mom 20 extra years of life after she nearly dies from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

    It’s called sacrifice, and it should be rewarded. If you want high-quality, trained professionals, you have to pay for them. Otherwise, you can expect lower standards. Throw into the mix that your quality of life and your very existence could very well depend on the decision making of a doctor one day, and you can see my point.

    Everyone, please, get real. You are not “entitled” to health care. You get quality health care because you pay for it. No one knows the sacrifice it takes to be a doctor until they’ve got the MD at the end of their name.

  16. Rachel says:

    One reason we might have a “health care crisis” due to rising medical costs, and the world’s highest physician salaries is that we turn away 57.3% of the applicants to medical schools. What we have is a form of a “medical cartel,: which significantly restricts the supply of physicians, and thereby gives its members monopoly power to charge above-market prices for their services.

    In his classic book Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman describes the American Medical Association (AMA) as the “strongest trade union in the United States” and documents the ways in which the AMA vigorously restricts competition. The Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the AMA approves both medical schools and hospitals. By restricting the number of approved medical schools and the number of applicants to those schools, the AMA limits the supply of physicians. In the same way that OPEC was able to quadruple the price of oil in the 1970s by restricting output, the AMA has increased their fees by restricting the supply of physicians.

    If we had 130 law schools (instead of 200) and 200 medical schools in the U.S. (instead of 130), it would probably go a long way to solving our “health care crisis.” More MDs at much lower salaries along with fewer lawyers and lawsuits would be a good thing, wouldn’t it? Can’t breaking up the medical cartel, training more physicians, and lowering MD salaries be part of the discussion for health care reform?

    Why cant the bastards all go for finance and wall street professions? Is it too much competition there?Its a wild west profession!
    Let us keep the wall street and finace profession as corrupt as before so that all these money hungry bastards go there first!

    • runge says:

      Reduce the salary and open the doors and you will get less interest from top applicants that can get in to anything they want. If you want the best and brightest in medicine you need to attract them, just like in any other field. Sure some will always do it for love of the job alone but others with limitless options will take their talent elsewhere if any jo blow can get in and there is no salary. I think we are paid well and perhaps too much, however, every single day involves hundreds of decision that can cost or save lives. You would be amazed at the diffence between a great doc, a good doc and they guy / gal you don’t want to take your mother / child to at 3am. As a young doc their are times I would pay huge amounts to have that one expert standing by my side when a sick patient with a condition outside my scope of practise comes through the door and is very sick. There are lots of jobs out there that pay too much. At least in medicine I can assure you the good ones have worked hard to earn. It really is the science and equipment that saves lives but it takes someone to make the tough decisions, decide what to use, and to get it done. A ventilator is of little use if no one can work their way through the blood and vomit to get a tube in the trachea. It also causes harm if you tube the wrong patient and they suffer for an extra month that they didn’t want. A 14 gauge catheter is useless if you don’t recognize the tension pneumothorax and it sits in on the cart while the patient dies.

      If you thinks doc’s have an amazing job (as I do) and believe they are paid too much then stop complaining and go excell for a 4 years undergrad, get accepted, take 4 years medicine, complete 2-7 years residency and join the party. 🙂

  17. Dr X says:

    oh ps all hubris aside–but clean save of a apneic premie the other day. Awesome. I love this job. Thank you America for providing me the oportunities I have enjoyed and Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

    Dr X

  18. Dr X says:

    I am really concerned about the resentment and negative press we as doctors have been receiving in this blog. I hope that I will always be paid fairly to be a tireless patient advocate and learned friend to my patients in the emergency department regardless of their ability to pay, their level of intoxication/aggitation, and or their likelihood of wrecking my, my wife’s or my new baby’s lives by making me unemployable in the future via a frivolous tort lawsuit. 2340 @ night and going back over the patient charts to make sure my patients are tucked in and all care was appropriate. 11 years after high school and still hopefully flat out gung ho at Midnight.

    Dr X—Emergency MD–University of California trained

  19. Melissa says:

    Doctors are overpaid. Doctors rely too much on medical equipment, if you take away the medical equipment from these so called “doctors”, they are rendered completely useless.

    Who makes these very important and life-saving medical equipments? Engineers do.

  20. Doctors are smart and shrewd says:

    Doctors are the smartest and shrewdest of all professions. They stand together for thier own kind.
    The medical profession is an exclusive club advertising for the desirable ones to come in.
    When I went to school at BYU the emphasis on the medical profession was always on the riches, the mansions, the lifestyle, the maids. No body can deny that this is the main reason 90% go to medical school.
    As to the question of actors and sports people getting paid more than doctors, of course doctors can get paid more if you can put your surgery and emergency rooms on TV. Millions would flock to watch it rather than reality TV. It doesnt have to be live even edited versions are good. There is the doctors team (heroes), cute nurses, sadness , joy you name it. Just once a week , do you know how much you will get paid. Each state can have thier own show, with thier local hero doctors.
    The fallacy of the debt argument makes one laugh. Ok the debt is 200,000. So what? You do make minimum 150000 a year dont you? And you cannot set apart 15,000 a year after your costly mansions and wife’s salon visits?
    Everybody knows residency is a time of training. There are people with 4 year bachelors who get paid lot less than what the doctors make during residency.The implied argument of the doctors is always we are the smartest people in the country , everybody needs us, if we as a profession dont get the highest pay who else should? This argument is the only one that makes sense because its direct and honest. But they wont do that. Since medical school admissions they know how to speak the right words and appear as if they would have rather died if they hadnt gotten into medical school because they like the profession so much!
    Residency and advanved training cannot be considered school. There are medical schools where the education doesnt cost 200,000. When some people go for the expensive ones I dont understand why they brag about how much they spent,and for others to feel sorry for them.
    This exclusive club maintains its status quo by not increasing the number of seats in medical schools and making foreign physicians do the lesser paid family physician jobs.( this is by filling up the family physician residency slots with foreign doctors who may have higher USMLE scores than thier counterparts).I work in the medical field and have seen thousands of foreign doctors enter into fake marriages,for green card because there is no direct way to get in!

    Just one medical school in some states? Isnt that apalling?

  21. Dr. Poundsign says:

    PS: my over ambitious (and protective) late mother “he’s a Genius!” expected me to go into medicine. My nominally more laid back father “the idiot is hopeless” was more pessimistic. But they BOTH expected me to see it through once I got accepted to med school. I would have got through in less years, with less trouble, and maybe be less socially retarded, if I had been a physical therapist or male nurse. But that was considered “not enough career” or pay or honorable for a Dude, especially a hymee honkie dude. I’m actually very bitter

  22. Dr. Poundsign says:

    No that is not my real name. I have a unique perapective. I am a US born MD who went to school in Tampico, Mexico. I was not even close to getting in in the states. I did not care because I felt that premed was “milking the act” with all their organic chemistry calculus etc etc and that I was bringing competition to a profession that sorely needed it. I like to say that I was a prisoner there and an ex-con here. We had to wait for eight hours to have our student visas renewed and were told to come back “manana” till the cruel lady got tired of playing with us. I registered my car legally (most did not) and it was confiscated for a late piece of paperwork and I had trouble getting it back. Yes it was a diploma mill and cheating was tolerated on the one hand but if you were the sacrificial lamb away from the flock they would still fail you-sort of like Reagan firing the air traffic controllers.

    I did my third and fourth year clerkships aka “Scut monkeyship” at inner city hospitals in Detroit and then Cleveland where I paid thousands/year to be exploited as a phlebotomist on top of the tuition to the school who at that point only threw paperwork at us and made us return twice a year for phony exams. I did a “fifth pathway” where I paid 10k plus living expenses in Brooklyn to do 3rd year rotations over and again be a surrogate phlebotomist (on AIDS patients yet!) and surrogate IV nurse. Residency in New Jersey was a rich “country club” atmosphere. But rich patients are the other side of the coin from the alcohol and drug addicted poor. Demanding and can get you in trouble! The director there DEFINATELY favored US grads.

    My point-medicine is “the Peter Principal.” We all get promoted to our level of incometence. Us dumb IMGs are internists Peds or Family Practitioners (who have to know it ALL) while the “creme de la creme” are “Carpenters” (orthopedic surgeons quintessential sawbones) who make 400k to our 130k and need to know a few procedures. Admittedly they and the Obstetricians have more malpractice worries. Are our salaries fair? That’s always the question in any racket. You CAN get NPs or PAs to replace us (it’s happening!) for cheaper. The public should have that safety valve-but they will know less. I don’t compare us to movie stars or jocks. Lord knows I’m no “Shaq”! And if you don’t like jock salaries don’t get ESPN pay per view fights or be stupid (like I was) and take your date to “Mr and Mrs Smith” and help to coronate “Brangelina” as King and Queen of the World! They are “worth it” on the free market.

    It is also true that bad habits are a big part of what we see. Chain smokin is NOT GOOD when you are diabetic in fact it is not good in any case. Many many heart attacks and strokes, not to mention emphysema and lung cancers are caused by tobacco addiction. And you would not believe the 5’0′ 400 lb Big Mommas that I write handicapped stickers oxygen and power wheelchairs for not to mention gastric bypass surgery consults. The Republicans defend big tobacco and refuse to hold the food industry responsible for the carnage that they cause. We DO suffer from the first day of premed to the last day of residency. This is the AMA’s own fault for making it like a twelve year version of Paris Island marine training so we feel that we can be Gods…RICH Gods. But people need to not abuse themselves and not go to us for antibiotics for colds and the flu. Some complain to me that I am “rich and need to cure Cancer.” If I did THAT I would hopefully be much richer! I did not expect my Caltech educated father (we were of VERY modest means) to invent controlled nuclear fusion. He worked on catalytic converters instead. Some malpractice reform is needed (I oppose arbitrary caps). I am grateful that folks are sympathetic to us even when we are crime victims (the Petites of Connecticut) let alone feel sorry for us when we are sued. I work at a community health center and enjoy federal torts protection. Doctors should be able to work under socialized pay scales but then the government pays malpractice. If we “opt out” we are on our own.

  23. XYZ says:

    It does not matter how much Drs are paid if in free market. The problem is that they inflated Dr’s salary by elimination of competitation.

    This problem primarily attributes to the AMA (American Medical Association), an institution which effectively enforces a chronic supply shortage of drs. The production system of Dr is strangled by the withholding nature of the AMA, which requires every dr practices in US to have residency in US (even for well experienced froeign Drs). On the other hand, the AMA restricted number of residency slots available. This environment prevents equilibrium of supply-demand from occurring, or the AMA effectively enforces a chronic supply shortage of Dr to the increasing demand. By eliminating competition, Drs can maintain high salary.

    AMA’s monopoly on the production of Drs has to be removed. Let the free market decide the price. Capitalism is best at determining fair value when you don’t have unions controlling supply of labor or politicians picking winners or greedy monopolies eliminating competition. In the free market environment, the Drs have to provide good service at reasonable price to stay in the market in which the consumer will benefit.

    Without free market in the production of Dr, the country will be dragged deep to the sea. Any reform without changing current monopoly in production of Drs will not work.not wod

  24. Craig says:

    Robert,

    Sorry, I forgot to add some money for the malpractice fees. So you’re making around $350,000 a year. Cry me a river.

  25. Craig says:

    Robert,

    You have been a physician for 1 year at the age of 33. Your current loan is $210,000. You said your net worth at age 33 is negative $45,000. That means you paid $165,000 back, and that is CASH. So, that means as a doctor, YOU are making at a MINIMUM of $250,000 a year w/o excluding taxes and such. HELLO SIR, that is a lot of money.

  26. Robert says:

    As a physician 1 year out of residency and fellowship training, I am 33 years old, have worked my but off for my whole adult life to get where I am Yes, people in many professions work hard and have long educational paths I also have a lot of PhD friends and the amount of work put in is so much less and the intensity is so much less that I think its a ludicrous comparison. In addition, most PhD students have time and opportunity to work (acting as TAs, etc). It is nearly impossible to work any meaningful amount as a medical student due to the volume of work in the first two years and the unpredictable and often long hours in the second two years. Thus we are forced to take out loans.

    To sum up the dilemma. I have been in training my whole adult life, often working crazy hours and overnight. My loans now total $210,000. Even with the income I make now, my current net worth at age 33 is negative $45,000! And no, I do not live a lavish lifestyle by any means. And I’m one of the lucky ones that is in a so called high paying specialty.

  27. Miguel says:

    Dont worry Jerome, for 20% less you can see a less experienced NP or PA to deal with your medical problems. I say 20% less because that;s what they usually charge compare to physicians.

  28. Miguel says:

    rodney; very good post. As a 3rd year resident Internal Medicine I really think doctors are not paid enough, especially primary care doctors. As a 3rd year resident I earn less than a 1st year nurse at my hospital but work 70-80 hours per week while she/he has 4 rotations of 12 hours. To Mr Rodney, anybody can have a BMW now a days or do you think that every BMW that you see on the street is driven by a physician?? Also you mention that you earn 150-200 so lets decrease your salary too.

    Alot of people have mentioned here that US has the best healthcare available. Is it because we have the best machines (MRI’s, CT scan’s etc etc)? NOPE, every country in Europe can have those, but we have the best trained personnel from the technicians, nurses, PT’s to physicians in the world.

    To whoever said that physicians are glorified technician I invite him to participate in rounds of any ICU in the country and listen to the intensivist and residents talk about the pathophisiology of why X or Y patient is almost at the brink of dying but is maintained alive by mechanical ventilation or machines that monitor cardiac index/output and also connected to a machine receving hemodyalisis. If you dont know the answer ask any technicians they should know how to run them in a 80 something year old person with 5-10 comorbidities each one affecting the way the other behaves.

    Any one that tells me that medicine a glorified technician is 1- has never had a family member really sick (im talking ICU level) or 2- hates doctor for whatever personal reason there might be.

  29. Jerome says:

    The money charged to patients for many basic procedures is way too much. Especially just to walk in the door and visit. Are they overpaid – for many things yes.

  30. Jack says:

    There are excessive waste in the health care industry. That includes EVERYONE including the patients.

    Ask yourself if you were to know the cost of the tests….will you still do it if you need to pay for it yourself?

    The insurance industry has become such that it insulated the public from knowing what things really cost. That’s NOT a good thing. Also it give a sense of entitlement to the public because everyone feels that if he/she paid they he/she DESERVES xxx.

    We all feel underpaid regardless of what type of job we have. If we feel another profession is overpaid……….get into it youself.

  31. Jack says:

    Jack,
    You are exactly why this country’s value is screwed up. Let’s pay athlete $$$ but let our health care suffer. Are you one who actually buy a $200 ticket for a game or sneaker but gets upset to pay a $20 copay? Do you “encourage” your children into sports hoping they make it big instead of “education”??

    If you defend athlete and entertainers to make $$$ in a “free market”, then why you won’t “free market” determine a doctor’s pay?

    I am all for free market to determine pay. I am sure NONE OF YOU will object if you get a raise but will COMPLAIN LOUDLY if someone is going to cut your pay.

    Next time you get critically ill, call Tiger or Berry or Michelle Pfiffer to take care of you in the hospital…ok?

  32. Rodney says:

    I have been reading all these opinions… it’s so strange the variety of responses and the lack of actual knowledge many of the opinions contain versus some of the nuggets of true insight- such a spectrum. I am a young physician working as a Primary Care Physician in post-Katrina Louisiana… Part of the Problem is that the spectrum of the physician practice is so broad. I honestly get paid very little for what I do but wouldn’t change because I truly love it. There are weeks that my per hour salary approaches that of a fast food chain manager (it’s true- I was curious and have calculated it more than once). But that’s partly my fault for going into primary care instead of a subspecialty or procedural-based practice. The fact of the matter is that I didn’t go into medicine to become rich or drive a BMW, but I did want to afford college and piano lessons for my child without a worry (it has become more and more of a worry as reimbursement goes down). And I actually do feel I deserve that security. I diagnose terminal diseases, visit family in the hospital off hours, fight insurance companies in personally typed letters, worry about weird things like making sure I have a female nurse in the room with me as I hunt for breast cancer so I don’t get sued, call patients all the time in between seeing other patients and while driving home for dinner to discuss test results, ponder over what they may or may not have, get called at 3am for a patient of mine in the hospital… And honestly… it’s a patient care thing too. I want to afford college for my newborn, so I’ve already had to add more patients to my day because I get reimbursed less for each patient visit by insurance companies… only to fight for time with each patient so they don’t feel I don’t want to spend the time. I would spend all the time they want (and I want) to discuss their kidney failure but medicare/aid is only paying me 15 dollars for the visit- and I filled up my 1990 Honda on the way here for 30. I guess I’m easier to attack since I have a more tangible face than the nebulous world of insurance companies and labs and hospitals. I love medicine. I loved studying for it. I loved reading about human physiology toward graduating cum laude instead of going to frat parties like my friends… it’s just weird that many people out there still seem to think I should get paid less, not complain about wanting a better proportion of wage per work responsibility, would call me egotistical for admitting that although I love what I do lament that maybe I could’ve put my smarts and compassion toward something else without the growing negative public opinion and resentment against me that I don’t feel I deserve. To all those people, the little wicked part of me really wishes you just held my practice for a week, just ONE week… to get a real personal perspective on what it’s about it my little nook of the world.

  33. Andrew says:

    Doctors make too much money, period. They are just glorfied technicians. They do not do anything creative. They just follow instruction books. Yes it is complex but so are many other things. I would not have such an attitude if I received true care from a doctor. Instead they are generally too self-important to be bothered to really care about patients. Most doctors seem to have gone into the field simply because of the money. I see very few who truly care about their patients. Instead they drive around in their BMWs and Mercedes to flaunt the money we put into their pockets. I have three college degrees, two in science, and an MBA. I know about going to school. We all work hard. I was accepted to medical school myself but chose a different path. I did not start out feeling this way but our system is broken. We must go to socialiized medicine. As a young man I was against this. I am generally a free market kinda guy. However, healthcare is different. A person should not be relegated to second class citizen because he/she has a health problem. Currently if you have a health issue and lose insurance coverage you are out in the cold. The insurance company/physician/drug company raquet needs to be totally smashed. Basic healthcare in a developed nation like ours should be a given. We should not be forced to spend so much of our resources to line the pockets of medical professionals. It is just like paying airline pilots exhorbitant salaries to be glorified bus drivers. Physicians are public servants. They do not grow the economy. They should be paid well for their expertise but these specialty salaries of $250K to $500K are rediculous. I know that we have the best healthcare system because we pay more for it. However, only the truly wealthy can afford to take full advantage of it. While other nations don’t have as great a system at the very high end, at least their typical citizens can afford to access it. I have generally made from $150K to $200K in sararies and bonus myself, so I am not a poor person. But even I consider it a luxury to keep my family in the type of healthcare services that they need. Something is wrong when I have worked this hard and still feel that I am always just on the edge of not being able to provide adequate healthcare for my family. One misfortune and I am just another poor slob that loses all access to the healthcare system. My father was a blue collar worker and died of cancer. In his final days he was shuffled around by physicians who tried to get rid of him because he was not able to keep up with his bills and doctors did not want to stoop to taking patients on government health plans. Screw the doctors! It is time to take our healthcare system back! I am pissed off and my votes will certainly be going toward a more just healthcare system.

  34. Luke says:

    Unfortunately, as long medicine is tied to money are health care system will always be in peril. When the boomers start to retire and hit the age where their bodies break down that going to be a massive shock to the health care system. I invite all us Gen. X’ers and Y’ers to sit back and watch Armageddon because until our idea of what health care is changes collapse is the inevitable result. Why should anyone want to live to be a senior citizen?

    Also, some comments about PhD’s having it easy are unfounded. I’m a materials scientist and I work almost 80 hrs a week between the “lab” and at home. I make no where near the amount a physician makes. I’ll be lucky if I hit
    150k per year in my career. I spent 5 years for my BS, 2 years for my MS, and 4.5 for my PhD. So should people get paid for for just saving lives? If that’s the case why not pay police men, nurses, firefighters, and soldiers more.

  35. Tom says:

    also I dont know how you could say MD deserves more $$ because we need them?

    All jobs are useful, important, needed, and should be appreciated. ALL JOBS.

  36. Tom says:

    HOORRRAYYY for Obama!!!!!!

    He will take physician, nurses, pharmacists, the whole health care field and set their salaries.

    I say nurse = 37,000. pharmacist = 82,000. MD = 120,000.

    Can’t wait for Universal Healthcare.
    $120,000 is still top 1% or so

  37. Jordan says:

    I keep hearing the argument that American physicians get paid too much compared to doctors in other countries. Well, in many countries in Europe, the student doesn’t have to pay for the education. If physicians in America had their education paid for and only had to work 40 hrs a week, then I wouldn’t mind seeing lower salaries. The fact is that many doctors work 60+hrs, and if all doctors started working 40hrs a week the shortage would be much worse. The point is this: If you want to cut doctors pay, you have to counter the pay cut with other incentives to keep students going into medicine, such as regular work weeks or reduced cost education, lower overhead etc…

  38. ics alum says:

    Hrm. This debate seems very heated. On an unrelated note, I’m thinking of abandoning my computer science degree and starting over for a medical one. Good idea bad idea?

  39. DTH says:

    Oh, one more thing. The vet thing above: 10 times the competition as medical students, 25 x’s the amount of material–These numbers are so false they are caustic–they are burning me. Nobody buy that garbage please. I come from a Lumberjack family–we did not have any money–I paid for a bit of my education with money I saved from working summers setting chokers in the North-West in high lead cable logging (ie…the hardest work on earth for 13 dollars an hour)—-before I became an MD. My father who has a Master’s in Math–worked in the woods for 40K for as long as I can remember…as is of course super sharp. That being said I am sharper. University of California for both Med school and Residency. The person above who stated that not anybody can be Tiger or Barry Bonds but that any “reasonably intelligent” compassionate person can be trained long enough to be a good doc—is unfortunately an idiot. I have sacrificed at least 10 times more than my father, I work in the pressure cooker of pressure cookers and I love it. Many Doctors I know are getting out–too hostile a climate to work in. I told all my friends in medical school all along the way that Doctors were way overpaid in America–>now I believe just the reverse–true fairness in my opinion would be–pay raise increase of approx 30% in current climate or a decrease 30% if we had the malpractice climate of New Zealand. I will continue to the absolute pinnacle of medical care for every patient in my ER until the end of my career—which BS & hubris aside; only about 1 in 10,000 of you are actually capable of—so pay us accordingly or no BS–I am getting an MBA.

  40. DTH says:

    One thing none of these other professions has in common with Medicine (Human);;;is the fact that we are open to getting sued all the time in the US. Risk & reward. I just finished 11 years of school to be an Emergency Room MD–amazingly difficult job seeing 2-4 patients per hour all at the stressful crux in their life many times. I have been to a number of countries–in no country I know is it so streamlined to ruin your ER Doc as it is here if they make one human slip up (I haven;t done it yet–but I am as human as the next guy and eventually on hour 12 I will miss an intubation, write for the wrong drug, miss an appendicitis or otherwise screw up as human’s do—>and I will lose absolutely everything like a number of colleagues I know)–>while my brother and wife—operational finance and attorney respectively–>will go on making about half what I make working about 75% of the hours I work–>with narry a nailbiting moment. Mine are nubs at this point. I pray and pray daily all my cylinders continue to fire while I try and save you or your loved ones in their time of crisis for 200K pre-tax–>toward my underwater house, my growing but as yet unborn child, adn my 200K school loans.

  41. Carlos says:

    Great point Mr. Boehm

  42. Charles Boehm says:

    I work on the HVAC systems of several physician owned residences and businesses in the Texas panhandle. I see evidence of some extremely wasteful spending all around and am frequently annoyed by it. I make too much money for healthcare assistance, but I’m about $400.00 a month to poor to buy insurance for my three kids. When I get sick I just have to tough it out and go to work anyway. Healthcare is simply not an option for me unless I’m literally dying. It would be very easy for me dislike well paid doctors on the grounds of inequality. I work outside in extreme weather up to 65 hours a week. I solve problems of a complexity level most not familiar with my trade would be quite surprised by. Although my college education was nowhere near $300,000 or 8 years, as a proportion to my ability to pay for it at the time I’m sure my situation was not much less demanding and my training has been going on for eight years and I still have much to learn. I have no sick pay, no paid holidays, very little vacation time, and overall am very underappreciated for my services. But wanting to lower physician wages would just be an outlet for jealousy and contempt. Doctors receive the compenstation they do because someone is willing to pay for it. Time spent alive is considered by many to be a highly demanded product. Apparently a hundred times as valuable as coming home to an adequately comfortable living room. That is where the salary discrepancy comes from and it is unlikely to change unless we give up capitalism and start flying red flags, which is probably a bad idea. CEOs, accountants, lawyers, consultants, stock brokers, professional athletes and a disturbing slew of other occupations produce nothing of any intrinsic value yet they are some of the highest paid positions available and attract little critisism for it. At least doctors give us SOMETHING for our money. If you would like to pay less for healthcare, care for your health less.

  43. David says:

    I realize that doctors in Europe get paid significantly less than in America, something around $120,000 for the higher paying specialties while their American counterparts will be making $300,000+ a year.

    However, I would gladly accept $120,000 a year if I don’t have to go through so much schooling/training and go through so much debt. In Europe the average medical school debt is $0.

  44. Carlos says:

    I’m a Senior in High School, and I don’t think Doctors make enough money. I’m only a Lifeguard, and I find training, and recertification to be annoying. I can only imaging it being 100,000x more annoying, and stressful for a doctor.

  45. Richard says:

    Also doctors in foreign countries go right into med school from high school, and tuition is paid for them! US doctors spend years more studying medicine and science, and go into extreme debt to do so, and by the time they finish training they have worked more hours than most people have worked by the time they retire.

  46. Richard says:

    People should do their research before commenting on the pay of doctors and surgeons. First of all, physician pay is less than 5% of health care costs. Secondly, the reason physicians in the US get paid more than other countries is because doctors in the US work almost twice the hours on average than in other countries (which is part of the reason wait times in the US are miniscule compared to other countries). If pay is regulated for physicians, I can guarantee physicians will do more to regulate their lifestyles, and good health care will be in severely short supply.

    Also, if you think socialized medicine will decrease how much you pay for healthcare, think again. If you are an average american making $40k a year, you will all of a sudden be paying not only for your care, but subsidizing the care of millions of people who sit on their butts all day with their diabetes, COPD, vascular disease, renal failure, obesity, strokes, etc. About 10% of people use up 90% of healthcare costs and resources. So distributing costs will only make the average person pay more out of their pocket for healthcare.

  47. Richard says:

    Ha ha, stupid PhD. I have an MD and a PhD degree, and I can tell you the PhD life was awesome– 40-50 hours a week, weekends off. Being a doctor is a completely different world. I work 90-110 hours a week (I’m a surgeon), and I don’t have a choice, I don’t get more than 2 weeks vacation a year, and when I am at work I am working 100 times harder than I ever did during my PhD years. 4 yrs college + 4 yrs med school + 4 yrs PhD + 7 yrs surgery residency + 2 yrs fellowship = TWENTY ONE YEARS. The most I’ve ever made is $65,000 per year. What a fool– you are a disgrace to the intelligence of most PhDs. And when you have your heart attack, I’ll make sure I send you to another hospital while you are dying, because I will have about 5 other patients who need me at the same time, and I’m “not worth what I get paid.” I’d like to see a PhD get called back to the lab after 90 hours of work that week, and then have that happen every day of his life for the rest of his life, as it does with surgeons.

  48. ERdoc says:

    Physicians overpayid? I don’t think so. The system is broken! With more retired people than those working, there is no way to pay for increasing cost of medical care and the government wants to cut at the largest expense. The True cost is the middle man. Many physicans would be willing to have lower fees (a lot of us are already doing it) for cash on day of service instead of waiting 3-6 months for payment, having it denied, resubmitting (and paying for the resubmission) and waiting more (while trying to pay the office bills, electicity, staff, etc.)

    Furthermore, it is UNREASONABLE to assume the physicians take a reduced payment for increasing volume of patients with increasing medical problems. Do you realize how expensive it is to become a physician? or how expensive it is to maintain a quality practice? This is the light of the fact that the public demands error-free medical care, early detection of problems (i.e. cancer), and a happy resolution to all illnesses without charging the patient or the system. If, however, there is an error (even by omission) the public demands the physicians head on a silver platter! Now how can you detect disease early, prevent disease, fix current problems, and never (EVER) make a mistake or miss a subtle finding, and give each patient a quality, caring visit? America needs to realize that You Get What You Pay For!!

    If you want free medicine, go to Canada! There is a reason that all the seriously ill patients come to America for health care instead of staying in their socialized medical countries. When you socialize medicine, or, for that matter, cut physician reimbursement, you will create a very severe 2 tiered system. If you have cash, you will be seen in a timely manner, receive quality care from a physician, timely tests, and great follow-up. If you want to use insurance (or governmental health), you will wait and wait, and wait and receive care from an overworked physician assistant or nurse practicioner, few tests/procedures/prevention, and poor follow-up.
    The real answer is in high deductable, tax-free personal Health savings insurance. Make the families and churches and local communities responsible for health, not the governement. Why do I have to pay more for my insurance (that I don’t use) when there are so many milking the system that have cause their own health issues (obesity, smoking, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure to name a few). I mean if you smoke, you should not receive any community medical coverage for health conditions related to the smoking. If you are obese and have diabetes, you are on your own! Now that would save the system ALOT of money!!

    All I can say is Good Luck America! When the physicians stop seeing patients, and you cannot get anyone to go to medical school (it is no longer worth the time, money, and stress)we can all thank the government for their socialism!

  49. Mr. Econotarian says:

    What I don’t think physicians understand is that if medicine is socialized in the US, political forces will force their income down 50%. Those physicians who deal with a lot of Medicare patients have seen the beginning of this, but since physicians can turn to private patients today, Medicare is limited in how hard it can “bring down the hammer.”

    When US medicine is fully socialized, there will be no limit to government’s ability to price fix for both physician/nurse pay and pharma costs.

    Some people think this is a great idea. I am a bit concerned.

  50. Jen says:

    Also, in response to vets getting paid more than physicians. I HIGHLY doubt that. Vets do not make every penny of what they’re paid. We have to pay the lab for every blood sample we take and we don’t make money on the drugs we prescribe either. An internship after 4 years of school being in the same amount of debt as any med student, law student, or whatever, pays somewhere around 25,000 anually. That’s not very much if you ask me. And most vets on average earn about 70-80,000 a year. That’s the same as plenty of entry level jobs and I’m sure a lot less than most physicians. But regardless, vets don’t care about what they earn, so I’m not complaining, we go into the field for different reasons obviously. Just don’t spread the illusion that we make a lot of money for trivial work or something. It’s exactly the opposite.

  51. Jen says:

    In response to someone bashing a vet they had as a patient: Please remember that vets have 10 times the amount of competition for entry into vet school than med school students do. We do all the same pre-reqs plus more to get in, and have to perform a lot better than pre-meds for any chance of acceptance. Granted, I agree, we do not need as many vet schools as med schools, but vets don’t just “take care of people’s pets.” They are the ones curing disease in lab animal research facilities, they were the first to discover oncogenes among tons of other medically important things, and they solve epidemic zoonotic disease crises, a hell of a lot more contribution to society than many typical physicians. Also, vet students have to learn 25 times the amount of material that med students do in the same amount of time, they don’t have patients that always cooperate or that can just tell the doctor what their symptoms are, and they usually work longer hours for a lot less money than physicians. So before you go dismissing vets as “less intelligent” or not as important as physicians, make sure you know something about the profession other than a comment from a patient that was a vet about surgery on dogs being different than humans. She probably said “that’s weird” because the surgeries are usually very similar.

  52. tom says:

    Let me add to this. I have recently been accepted into medical school after having gone through a master’s program. PhD’s are a joke. They are the laziest SOBs around. Most people in PhD programs sit on their asses all day and have master’s students run gels for them. It’s basically like being a professional dishwasher. Science is lazy work….it’s not even close to the stress a doctor encounters. Law school is also a joke from what I hear. most of these guys and gals end up paper pushers working for some garbage corporation….. Don’t get me wrong. PhD’s are necessary in science to develop the drugs, but they are not slaving away to do it. A lot of research is WAITING. An experiement can take weeks to carry out. IT IS NOT STRESSFUL AT ALL.

  53. Matt Prentice says:

    Over paid? You must be kidding. Thats like saying taxes are too high so lets decrease all of the politicians’ salaries by 50%, and you know what the cost of flying these days is way too high so lets cut the pay that pilots recieve. Come On people get real there are dozens of other reasons out there for why healthcare costs are so high let alone physician salaries.

  54. Charles says:

    I really like the comparison, usually made by members of the medical community, regarding how their “meager” paychecks compare to the pay that star athletes, actors, musicians, etc. get. It usually goes like this: “We save lives, what do these people do? Put a little white ball in a hole, sing a song, ACT like a doctor on TV? Such in injustice! Pay us more more more.” While I will admit is is sometimes annoying to see some spoiled, rude and ungrateful athlete getting a multi-million dollar contract the fact is this – they are getting very high pay because they are offer something very unique, do to their unique skill combined with perhaps a special persona. There is only one Tiger Woods. You can’t replicate him. Only guy who is so excellent at golf that he can win all those championships – and who has a unique and to many, an appealing persona on top of it. There is no TIGERCAT exam to take, such that if you get a high score, you go to TigerSchool, and then on to TigerResidence and then pass your boards to become a certified Tiger. You can take some guy with long sideburns and a good voice and have him sing an Elvis song, but its not Elvis. Controversy aside, there was only one Barry Bonds, one guy who beat Babe Ruth’s record. They are unique and for that, for better or for worse, they get the super bucks. For all you medical people with oversized egos – wake up – you’re no Tiger Woods. Millions, tens of millions of people can be trained to be a physician. Yes, a lot of years and work, but nothing unique. Nothing so exceptionally special. Just a matter of taking reasonalby intelligent (and hopefully compasionate) people and training them.

  55. Future Doc says:

    This is ridiculous. Have you looked at the cost of medical education? The AVERAGE debt of a medical student when they graduate is MORE THAN $200,000. During residency, the AVERAGE salary (not take-home, but salary) is $42,000. To run a practice right now (just to pay staff, rent for an office, malpractice insurance, supplies) runs MINIMUM $100,000 per year, even in primary care! So if someone is making $125,000 a year, they spend 20%+ on taxable income expenses, then the cost of the practice…i.e. it is NOT profitable. Even with $200,000 the take-home is VERY little when you consider the overhead of running a practice. Therefore, the answer to decreasing costs of healthcare is NOT to aim at physician’s salaries.

    Secondly, if you decrease pay incentives to doctors, what happens to the supply of physicians? It dwindles, drastically. The US is already suffering from a physician shortage, decreasing our pay will only make that worse as we will not be able to sustain a viable practice OR pay of the $200,000 of loans (that are gaining interest mind you!) much less our future childrens’ college expenses.

    Financial incentives are far more appealing in business and law, medicine is not a field to enter into if you are looking for a solid, guaranteed, healthy income.

    Why is it wrong for a physician to get paid for the time he/she spends saving your life and or preventing the things that could kill you? Yet, you don’t whine about attorney’s and their extraordinary price for every MINUTE they even THINK about your case.

    I didn’t go into medicine thinking I’d come up out with plenty of income. However, I did go into medicine thinking it guaranteed me a job. Even that idea is starting to fall apart as ignorance such as this threatens the supply of physicians and my ABILITY to pay for my practice.

  56. Dave says:

    AnnS- one more comment for you. A vet does in fact do SIMILAR procedures to a physician, and does charge less. However, at the end of the day, a vet gets paid MUCH, MUCH more than a physician, because they get every penny of what they charge. Whereas a doctor can charge whatever he wants for a procedure, he is only going to get paid pennies on the dollar by the insurance companies. Next time you have blood drawn, or have an office visit, check your insurance statement, and you will see exactly how much the doctor makes from the insurance company. From that, he has to pay for office space, staff, and malpractice. There ain’t a whole lot of malpractice for vets.

  57. Dave says:

    AnnS- You are actually trying to compare lawyers and PhD’s to doctors? That is not even comparing apples to oranges, rather more like comparing apples to hammers. When was the last time a lawyer had to wake up at 1 in the morning to go to the hospital and save someone’s life by taking out their infarcted intestines? When did the PhD have to miss their son’s baseball game because someone had a heart attack and needed urgent heart catheterization? Doctor’s do go to school as long as lawyers and PhDs. Their jobs are much, much different. I don’t care how many hours someone works, the fact is that physicians save lives. Maybe not everyday like on TV, but when somebody is DYING, they do not call their lawyer to find out if they can sue McDonald’s for an absurd amount of money because they spilled their coffee on their lap.

    If a lawyer gets called by someone who wants to sue somebody, and that lawyer realizes that they cannot win a case (thus get paid for their work), they don’t take the job. When a doctor has a patient come in to the hospital that is severely ill, they cannot turn them away because they cannot pay. In fact, this is illegal.

    So let’s just take the “length of time in school” argument off the table as a determinant of salary. Let’s instead argue about the work a physician does. I think you will find it hard to tell someone that saves your son’s vision after he accidentaly sticks a pen in his eye that he doesn’t deserve his paycheck. But don’t try to tell me that a lawyer who finds a way to save you $1000 on your taxes by finding a loophole in the law deserves as much as someone who can save your life.

  58. Mark A says:

    I believe a major point of that article was the in which physicians are currently paid by insurance. That being weighted more for procedures than actual intellectual thought.

    I am somewhat offended at the “Pay physicians by salary? Ain’t gonna happen.”

    As an academic physician I and all of my colleagues, get paid a straight salary much less than I would make in private practice. Although I am in a procedure oriented specialty I do not get paid more if I do more procedures.

    There are many issues with health care reform, many more than what was presented in that article, and to focus on just one aspect is like placing a band aid on the bleeding hand of someone who just got hit by a train.

  59. Josh says:

    That last post was funny.

    About the whole “I paid for all those years of school and now I’m entitled.” According to the current system, that’s what is expected so you think grads are going to let people like you GOUGE them because you don’t want to pay for your insurance. Life ain’t fair applies to PhDs and lawyers too so I don’t get your stance. Personally, PhDs in science get screwed for their contributions, but the liberal arts can screw themselves. Like I need for political science experts.

  60. DummieAnn says:

    Hey Ann,

    Did you just compare a procedure on a pet to a physician? You are indeed incredible. Pets are an artificial unnecessary need in US society so why should there be more schools to keep animals alive that shouldn’t be incarcerated by us anyways?

    I actually had vet as a patient. Apparently, she was a dog cardiologist. When I told her what needed to be done, she said, “That’s weird. I don’t do that with dogs.” I rest my case.

  61. Adam says:

    For most…

    I get really peaved when people attack me for my pay for what I do. I don’t ask for millions, but I do ask for what my input offers. I don’t plan to SLAVE over a public that wants to put me down and then sue me when my interest is to provide them with quality of life. Physicians don’t make huge bucks from ordering tests since hospitals do keep an eye on that for their own profits. We get the short end of the stick always even though we are the working force along with nurses.

    More so, people don’t mind when Tiger Woods takes home millions for putting a ball in a tiny hole. Wow…that really helps keep society running. People pay for big screen TVs, sporting event tickets, vacations, etc. But, we can’t pay healthcare. Maybe if everyone got bright, people would do what doctors want done. Take out the middle man – insurance companies. Instead, everyone wants to take us out. These economists are bogus. They look at a bunch of outliers to figure out their values. I wonder if they ever looked at the notion of a urologist getting 1800 for prostate surgery while hospital/insurance figures in 20000. Oh wow, doctor made a whole 5% out of that process. If US truly had a free market system, doctors, teachers… would get a lot more.

  62. Pingback: A Healthy Blog » Reinhardt Nails the Matter — Are Docs Paid Too Much?

  63. Terri says:

    The dental community has heard the same argument on both sides of the fence about reimbursement. To graduate from dental school 4 years undergrad + 4 years dental school + (maybe) 2 years residency and a total of over 300K in debt. Then try to purchase a practice…
    But with incomes in the six digits and 4 day weeks from 8-5 is it really that tough.

  64. AnnS says:

    “4 yrs college+4 yrs med sch+ 3-5 post grad training, tell me about actors, sports stars and newscasters that come to the table with that and save lives, get real, doctors do not get paid enough.”

    Knew that would be coming from someone – the ‘woe is me, I paid for all those years of school and I’m entitled!” argument.

    Spare me the angst. Try this:

    4 years of college + 2 years for a Master’s + 3 years for a PhD + 2-3 years post-doc work and then maybe a shot at a tenure-track positions teaching at University level in any subject and that is a grand total of 11-12 years

    11-13 years – big deal. Anyone seeking a PhD in any subject and then trying to find a permanent college level teaching job will spend every bit as much time and money.

    Try law school. 4 years college + 3 years law school JD + 5-7 years as a low-level associate working 70-90 hours a week (the lawyer version of the internship & residency) = 12-14 years. Add an LLM in a specialty which means 2 more years and it takes it to 14-16 years.

    The writer of that diatribe is quite obviously of my generation – the self-centered, I’m entitled, I’m so special Boomers.

    Fact: A vet can do the same proceedures as an MD – and charges less.

    Fact: In the 60’s and 70’s it was harder to get into vet school than med school as there were only 18 vet schools in the US.

  65. Todd Rodriguez says:

    I note that the NYT article only briefly touches on the cost of obtaining a medical education. I would be curious to know how those costs compare to those in Europe — then again, in much of Europe, the education system and the health care system are socialized. In a free-market economy – um, take the U.S. for example – we are free to stop paying doctors so much. And, bright people are free to stop going into medicine. I for one would like the best and the brightest to continue going into the field. For $60k/yr how many smart people do you think would be willing to lay in bed at night worrying about whether they will lose their house in a malpractice suit? How about paying them on a contingent fee basis like many personal injury lawyers? If you die, they get nothing. If they save your life, they get 33% of everything you earn thereafter.

  66. C. Clarke-Belgrave says:

    Are basketball, baseball, football players and actors and newscasters paid too much? On the show ER they wanted to pay an actress 30 million to play a nurse, play a nurse and she declined. As a doctor in training I did not sleep for 36 hours straight, I tended to people on the verge of death or permanent disability and in 1978 I made $14,000/year. I know the salary may be a higher now for doctors in training but it is now 30 million. All those that have to be responsible for a human being continuing to breath and have a heart beat should be compensated because it is a complex job and you do not get a season off. Doctors are not paid enough in the big scheme of things. 4 yrs college+4 yrs med sch+ 3-5 post grad training, tell me about actors, sports stars and newscasters that come to the table with that and save lives, get real, doctors do not get paid enough.

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