Skip to comments.Me and My Doctor: Setting the Record Straight on Doctor Pay
Posted on 08/03/2012 4:23:31 AM PDT by sono
I am a physician in Denton, Texas. This morning, I sat and read your article in The Dallas Morning News titled Your Doctors Big Fat Paycheck. Frankly, I am in awe of the breadth of your ignorance.
Fact: Of the health care dollars spent in this country, physician salaries make up about 8.5 percent. That is one of the lowest percentages in the industrialized world. Germany, by contrast, is at 15 percent.
Fact: The graduate level course of study for nurse practitioners (NPs) and nurses is not even close to that of physicians we have a little something called residency. Perhaps youve heard of it. When I did mine in OB-Gyn from 1994 to1998, it was 90-100 hours a week for four years with a take home pay of $20,000. I was raising a family on that, as my wife had to stay home to take care of premature twins. NPs and nurses do none of that.
Fact: Private insurers are already too strong. Weak bargaining position? If you dont like the contract they offer, they tell you to take a hike. Doctors are the ones with no bargaining position. I havent had an increase from United Healthcare for 54 months. Meanwhile, it paid its shareholders an 11-percent dividend last year. And regarding your comment about how individual plans rarely cover one-half an area do your homework! States like Alabama have Blue Cross and Blue Shield covering 90 percent of insured lives! In any other industry, this would constitute a monopoly.
Fact: Medicare increases have been had by every segment of the health care industry except doctors. (See the charts.)
Fact: Pilots may make less than doctors. They also belong to unions and walk out when they dont get what they want. Doctors never walk out, and the pro bono and free care we hand out cant even be deducted from our federal taxes as charity. Then try breaking it down per hour. Pilots fly about 60 hours/month. Doctors work in the office and hospital about 60 hours/week. And that doesnt take into account nights and weekends on call. Dont get me wrong pilots are vital and do a great job. But on a per-hour basis, they are clearly ahead. By the way, I don't know a single primary care doctor who makes $200,000 a year. Most of the ones I know are barely getting by, and many are closing their practices or selling them to hospitals.
A huge doctor shortage is looming. We cannot and will not attract our best and brightest students to medicine unless their pay is commensurate with the level and intensity of work and commitment needed to fund a modern medical education. The student loan burden alone, which is now often exceeding $200,000, keeps many away.
The huge amount we spend in this country for health care has far less to do with medical professionals salaries than it does with the cost of almost everything else. Case in point: The same Mirena IUD, from the same single factory that Bayer uses in Finland, costs $700 in the United States but costs $250 in Canada. Really? That same case can be made for tens of thousands of drugs and medical products here.
Medicine is one of the only businesses I know of where the increasing cost of doing business cant be passed on to the customer. Every year, the cost of running my office and paying my employees goes up, while insurance payments stay the same or go down. I am left to eat the difference. My salary the last three years is less than I made 14 years ago when I started in private practice. Hardly a source of bankrupting the health care system.
Shakespeare said that the eye sees what the mind knows. With that in mind, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable entrusting your care or that of your family to someone with less training, less knowledge, and less expertise. Would you? I think not. Now ask yourself how happy one of us would be treating someone like you, who wrote an article that is so misleading about us and who we really are and what we really have done to become really good at taking care of patients. Surprise. We would love to take of you. Why? Because that is what we took a vow to do, a vow that doesnt allow us the luxury of being judgmental. So the next time you are lying in bed needing emergency surgery, remember this we will be there. Pay or no pay. Assign a value to that ideal, and then consider whether or not we are overpaid.
Sincerely, Joseph S. Valenti, MD, FACOG
“United Healthcare” can’t pay the doctors more because of its kickback to AARP.
The letter the Dr is responding to:
Planned so the Democrats can import doctors and support staff from Third-World countries.
Planned so that Obamacare, which takes over student loans, can tell graduating med school students, where they must work and for how much. It has also included affirmative action-like regs for med schools and nursing schools.
They intend to pass out diplomas to minorities as a form of reparations.
Ask Brits how all those imported “doctors” are working out. Not only are they poorly trained, but they also lack the dedication & respect for life that an English or American doctor has. Many are simply overpaid, under-educated butchers.
IIRC Docs in the old Soviet Union were terrbily underpaid lackys.
That is where we are heading.
Local practices are being lured into the hosptials with fat salaries now, and once there is no private practitionrs (Except for the ruling class) salaries will be cut dramatically.
Docs do not understand that they are engineering. Engineering has no power just talent.
The good doctor didn’t even touch on malpractice insurance.
That is astronomical.
Interesting article! I tried to change doctors in our family group, but was not allowed to. I’m an RN. I had to cancel a follow-up appointment due to caring for my mother-in-law in another state and she had not been released from rehab treatment to be on her own. I cancelled a week in advance. When I did return and had to call to renew an appointment, I was reamed out by the NP for canceling. Then I was further abused when I went for the rescheduled appointment. I told the manager that her (the NP’s) behavior was unprofessional and intolerant, and this was my reason to change doctors, since I was never going to SEE the doctor again, just the NP, I was not going to continue with the same DR/NP. Anyway, I had never had a physician treat me like this NP! It seems that this is the way most clinics are dealing with the doctor shortage. Nurse practitioners. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to be one, too, but we moved overseas for 25 years and I was unable to. Many of them have crossed the line in their self esteem. They are NOT doctors, after all. But, Obama has fed their egos.
Americans still trust their doctors - So-called Health Policy experts, not so much.
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