Are Doctors Overpaid?

Feb 26 2013 @ 1:22pm

Yglesias believes so:

The last time the OECD looked at this (PDF), they found that, adjusted for local purchasing power, America has the highest-paid general practitioners in the world. And our specialists make more than specialists in every other country except the Netherlands. What’s even more striking, as the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff observed last week, these highly paid doctors don’t buy us more doctors’ visits. Canada has about 25 percent more doctors’ consultations per capita than we do, and the average rich country has 50 percent more. This doctor compensation gap is hardly the only issue in overpriced American health care—overpriced medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, prescription drugs, and administrative overhead are all problems—but it’s a huge deal.

Doctors aren’t as politically attractive a target as insurance companies, hospital administrators, or big pharma, but there’s no rational basis for leaving their interests unscathed when tackling unduly expensive medicine.

In a follow-up, he suggests decreasing the cost of medical school:

Making medical education much cheaper in exchange for pushing doctors’ reimbursement rates down should be a total no-brainer, and the exact level of financial assistance could be tied to assessments of needs of particular kinds of doctors (i.e., more generous terms for GPs than plastic surgeons).