Better Health » Some of My Best Friends Are Doctors

Better Health » Some of My Best Friends Are Doctors

Dr. Val does a nice Fisk!  Yes, docs make a decently good living.  No, it’s not why the health care system is in trouble.


  1. It’s not even part of the solution to look at that? Decently good living? That’s quite an understatement for the worlds wealthiest professionals-US doctors. Not that you don’t deserve it but let’s acknowledge that it’s a damn fine living.

  2. No, it’s a decent living. Put you class envy back in the bottle.

  3. If being in the top 1% of all earners in the richest country in the world is only decent to you (no class envy-I’m there too) then you must have some ridiculously wealthy friends.

  4. Like you, no friends, just a blog. And a decent life.

  5. It’s an easy mindset to get into—that of thinking that doctors worship the almight dollar, that they don’t want any “change” in the current system—and I admit that it took me years to formulate my current opinion of the average doctor.

    It is the same as my opinion on why many of us become RN’s.

    It starts out as noblesse oblige, where you grow up thinking that you can “contribute” to the world in general, in a somewhat “glamorous” way–in the “exciting” world of medicine.

    Then, when reality sets in after nursing/medical school, it becomes “a job”, where you work your ass off hoping it will pan out financially some day, where you can earn your way to a job that you work 9-12 hrs and then go home, finally getting enough seniority to not have to be on call or some other blood-sucking variety of the profession.

    Later on, when your hair is grey and your ulcer has ripened–and you’re finally earning a salary that your friends envy— you don’t give a crap about the money. You just want to pay your student loans and get out alive….

    Sorry…on a rant here…

  6. Grunt it saddens me your only friends are online.

  7. TheNewGuy says:

    Matt, you whip out the class warfare angle every time this discussion comes up.

    It really gets tiresome.

  8. If my life is on the line, I would hope that the brightest, smartest, most capable person possible was the person caring for me. If it requires financial incentive to insure that this is the case, then who cares? I don’t want some “noble do-gooder trying to save the world” I want the best, and don’t care what their motivation is.

  9. There’s a fairly good article on American health care from The Economist, entitled “Reforming American Health Care: Heading for the Emergency Room. A relevant quote;

    “Doctors’ generous pay is another popular culprit. But doctors in several European countries are well paid too. The OECD estimates that general practitioners in America earn 3.7 times the average wage. Their British counterparts earn 4.2 times their national average. American specialists earn 5.6 times the average wage, against 7.6 times for their Dutch colleagues. Yet health-care costs in Britain and the Netherlands remain lower than America’s. The real problem is not how much American doctors are paid, but how. The system of medical reimbursement warps incentives for doctors, insurers and patients that lead Americans to consume more and more medical services. There is strong evidence that Americans use pills, procedures, scans and other expensive forms of health care more often than do patients in other rich countries, and not always to good effect.”

    Here’s the link;

  10. Actually New Guy that has nothing to do with class warfare. But if docs are so tone deaf and insulated from how much better off financially than the vast majority of Americans then they’ve already lost this particular battle. You’d be better off to remind people how much training and skill is required to do your job than start trying to convince people how hard it is to live on your salaries.

  11. The assertion that doctors are in the top 1% of wage earners in the US is just horribly wrong. According to the 2005 US Census, even those making $250,000 and above are 1.5% of wage earners.

    As hard as I work, I don’t make anywhere near that, and there are plenty of doctors who make less than I do.

    One of the differences between most doctors (those not on salary) and many other professionals is that we make money by actually doing something, ie, some billable task. We don’t get paid for quite a bit of the time we spend getting and disseminating information we need to do our job, just those billable things. Plus, I must be available 24 hrs a day, on the weekends when I’m on call, and just being on call is not a billable item.

    If I were a lawyer, I’d be charging for every minute of every phone call, every time I am “representing” a patient. If I were a businessman, I’d be getting a fat salary with perks, bonuses, extra money for every prescription I write, every piece of equipment I prescribe…

    There will always be room to slash away at doctors’ income, but sooner or later, you may not be able to find a doctor that can be available all the time. Today it will be this doctor, tomorrow another, and none of them will particularly care about the big picture of you and your health.

  12. Check the DOL statistics. You’ll also find that US physicians are the highest paid profession in the country by 50% over lawyers on average. Again it’s not that you don’t deserve it but when you’re fighting creeping socialism in your industry complaints about your poverty may not be your best weapon.

  13. TheNewGuy says:

    Are any of us crying poor mouth, Matt? No… but we grow tired of the “rich doctors” trope you consistently trot out… as if it’s at all relevant to the healthcare reform issue. What we make is such a tiny slice of the healthcare pie that the saving generated by slashing our salaries isn’t even worth the trouble.

    Tone deaf and insulated? Please. You’re trying to make the issue about “rich doctors complaining about their salaries,” and that’s complete crap.

    You breathlessly opened this comment thread with “it’s not even part of the solution to look at that?”

    You’re trolling, and it’s pathetic. Find another hobby.

  14. ” No… but we grow tired of the “rich doctors” trope you consistently trot out”

    On average, you ARE rich. On average, attorneys ARE rich (physicians are richer, though). And you guys do constantly complain that you’re underpaid, your expenses are too high, etc.

    I’m just trying to help you see that this line will fall on deaf ears, and in fact already has. You will gain nothing by it.

    Instead of being angry at me, you need to take a hard look at what’s going on in the politics of your industry right now. Within two years, it is very likely that the way you practice and are compensated will be completely and totally revamped, and frankly the voice of the physicians in this process – the people on the front lines EVERY DAY – isn’t getting heard. The only thing that seems to motivate you guys is tort reform, which is a tiny fraction of your worries in reality.

    Why do I care? Because I’m potentially a patient and I’m a taxpayer. But it’s not everyday for me like it is you. There is no group in the healthcare industry as wealth, as trusted as much by the public, and with as much at stake as physicians. Yet their lobbying with regard to their actual practice and the way healthcare is delivered is by and large weak and ineffectual. There is no excuse for this other than either you’re still making too much to care, or you want single payer.

    Please, please wake up. Stop crying about how broke you are. If you think arguing back that you don’t make enough every time someone says you do will get you anywhere you are wrong. The public doesn’t buy it. Why? I’ll give you an example – the Business Journal in my state just published a list of the buyers of all the million dollar homes in our capital city. Nearly 40% were physicians of one stripe or another. Is it a representative sample of all physicians? Of course not. But the public doesn’t get this in the age of news soundbites. You can’t counteract that with paragraphs on paragraphs about your training, overhead costs, etc. You have to make it about them. How do your proposals specifically help them? Read the surveys for what patients want and structure win-wins for both of you.

    Or ignore what I’m saying and get your payroll checks direct from the Dept. of Treasury.

  15. “What we make is such a tiny slice of the healthcare pie that the saving generated by slashing our salaries isn’t even worth the trouble.”

    Of course, the same could be said about malpractice issues – yet physicians go to a ton of trouble for that. In the healthcare policy arena, you are an inviting target for other stakeholders because your income is real and easily digestible, and you’re out there living among the public in nice houses and driving nice cars. People KNOW who the doctor in their neighborhood is. They don’t really know who the guy who may be an upper level exec for a health insurer, or a hospital administrator, is.

    You can’t be surprised about this. These are many of the same tactics used by physicians and insurers against lawyers. Did you really think you were immune to the same political tools you use?

  16. Honestly, how can people be so jealous of dollars?

    Does time not mean anything? My daughter’s father-in-law is a doctor, an anesthesiologist and he is well-paid and he has earned every penny of it IMHO.

    When his daughter was hospitalized with an MRSA lung infection in a different state (1000 miles away), he was not able to visit her more than once during her 2-month intensive care stay.

    What he and his daughter relied upon are the same things the rest of humanity relies upon — our families. His wife moved into his daughter’s college apartment, my daughter and his son moved into his house and cared for his younger daughter and the doc. He submitted himself nightly to internet horrors while Googling MRSA and lungs. The man was devastated.

    Yet, when it was suggested that he take leave, a sabbatical, or whatever you want to call it, his response was that he couldn’t because he was needed by his patients. His colleagues got together and worked out a schedule among themselves where he could spend a week with his daughter. His response to their generosity of their time was tears.

    This man makes a fantastic living for his family, although his daughter’s treatment exceeded their yearly limit for medical care and cost them an amount that would make the “average” American choke. In fact, the average American would have declared bankruptcy due to owing a similar amount.

    Is this family fortunate to be able to pay off those medical bills? You betcha. However, the same treatment would have been provided in the same Dallas hospital for a family of a minimum wage earner… free, or next to free.

    The rich already pay their way in more ways than simply taxes because this wealthy family paid also paid for the treatment the hospital offers to all.

  17. It will be ok to pay doctors less when their medical education is free or cheap and the risk of malpractice lawsuits are a thing of the past.

    As it stands, on any given day, an MD’s license may be taken away due to some sort of human error (which will happen) but s/he’ll still have to pay those student loans.