Talking About Highly Paid Doctors Does Not Devalue Their Work
American doctors have much higher salaries than their equally qualified international peers. At least one justification for the sometimes significant salary differentials is legitimate—medical school and training costs are greater in the U.S. than in other countries. Other justifications such as the U.S. is a wealthy country that can afford to pay its doctor more or that doctors could have chosen even higher paying jobs in other industries are even weaker. No one forces you to become a doctor. And, even if you think medicine is a noble profession, there is no such thing as “nobility pay” in the world of compensation management.
Becoming a medical doctor in the U.S. is very hard. It takes years of study. We know this because doctors are great at reminding the rest of us of the costs they incur and sacrifices they make in pursuit of their medical degrees. Also, let’s not forget, because they won’t let us, that doctors help the sick and save lives. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to undervalue the efforts and commitment of doctors. However, I’m also not willing to exclude doctors from criticism for the role they play in our overpriced American health care system.
If Medicine Is Noble, Not Every Doctor Is
Medicine and money go hand in hand, and so does greed and self-importance. Some doctors enter the medical profession for noble reasons—they want to alleviate illness and save lives; for others, it is a pathway to wealth and prestige. And no one exemplifies the greedy, egoism of the medical profession like Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price. Now a politician, Price was once an orthopedic surgeon and director of an orthopedic surgery clinic in a wealthy area of Atlanta, GA. Orthopedic surgeons are the highest paid of all medical specialists, with an average salary of nearly half a million dollars a year.
Tom Price was never shy about wanting to become a wealthy doctor. It was his goal. And even after moving into politics as an elected Congressman and now head of HHS, he continues to invest in the health care industry and lies about his corrupt investments in the medical field. Another thing Price never lies he doesn’t lie about is his views that doctors should be left alone to make as much money as they can make. At HHS, Price is looking out for doctors’ pocketbooks. In Price’s world, Medicare payments to doctors rise, quality standards and medical malpractice awards go down, and electronic health records disappear (because who wants to share data with other physicians and invite competition). And that’s not even the worst of Price’s financial activism on behalf of his fellow doctors that don’t want to change but want more money. Price wants to collaborate with doctors in letting them decide how much Medicare (taxpayers) pay for their services.
It Matters Who Becomes A Doctor
Tom Price is a horrible man. He’s greedy, corrupt and a shameless liar. I don’t blame his previous profession in the highest paid medical specialty for his ways, but wouldn’t it be good to keep people like him out of the medical and health policy fields? And, if we can use pay practices (including pay reductions) to attract a different type of doctor that cares about healing patients, but also the costs of and access to medical care, that would be great also.
Lastly, we shouldn’t have to tip-toe around the issue of doctor salaries for fear of being labeled ungrateful. The facts suggest that America overpays doctors and that health care costs are outrageously high. If lowering doctors’ salaries doesn’t save us much in and of itself, maybe it can save us from the corrupting influence of greedy people entering the profession, and real health care reform can progress.