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Saturday, February 16th 2008

I Need It, So I Should Get It

Edwin Leap looks at how much physicians should be paid (h/t Kevin MD) in light of some grumpiness over physician earnings. Here’s the comment I’m interested in and which I couldn’t agree more with,

On to medicine. Doctors just make too much money, right? I don’t know. Maybe, because medicine is something people need, rather than want, we think physicians get paid too much. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t. But I think there’s an inherent danger in the very question.

The idea of America has always been, not equal success, but equal opportunity to try and succeed.


I hope that we remember that. I hope that we don’t decide that someone, read ‘government’ is going to start deciding who makes how much.

The growing public opinion of entitlement to health care is certainly helping to create some ire concerning the piece of growing spending on medical care that physicians take for themselves. That ire is misplaced.

Despite contributing to the rising health care costs, health care providers are far from overpaid.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation involving essentially the highest earning physicians (if not by hourly earnings).

Hey, I Probably Make At Least $300,000 A Year As A Neurosurgeon

If We:

  • Removed all negotiated schedules with the cabal of payers
  • Removed all restrictions on who can practice neurosurgery
  • Removed all debt protections (i.e. the surgeon can balance bill; the surgeon take the house, the car, the first born to collect his fee)
  • Essentially made it into a situation where neurosurgeons could charge whatever the market would bear (and were able to take any assets to collect their fee)

Do you think there’s any chance neurosurgeons would earn less than the average salaries spelled out here? What is having that spinal fusion or having that tumor out worth? Everything. Even when anyone can do it, how many surgeons would actually arise? Few.

Health care is something you need. And even if we remove the admitted restrictions the fraternity of medicine have in place for admittance, health care will continue to be of relatively limited supply based on the great stakes and the true limit of those actually skilled/qualified in the art of medicine.

Who Do You Want Treating Your Heart Disease?

Why in the world would the public expectation be that because it is something you need it costs less? “Well I need it, therefor I’m entitled to it,” just doesn’t fly. And yet that is what I truly believe is arising as the culture in this country.

Okay, that’s enough of a rant I suppose. Not that I’ve posted anything new here as I’ve made similiar arguments before on this blog.