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TIME: A Healthier Way to Pay Doctors

TIME magazine offered its view of physician compensation and value.  After reading the article, feel free to post your thoughts on our message board.  We’re curious to know what you think when you hear people say…

“It’s hard to feel sorry for America’s family doctors. Any job that averages $179,000 per year and lets you be your own boss is a job most folks wouldn’t turn down. With the effort to rein in health-care costs increasingly framed as an unhappy trade-off in which insurers either slash benefits or raise premiums, some in Washington are beginning to ask a question long considered off-limits: Do we simply pay doctors too much?  The truth is, we pay them all wrong.”

The article explains that the current system is less than optimal and offers its solution:   “In the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania, the Geisinger Health System is trying something different. The 726 physicians and 257 residents and fellows who work there don’t do piecework. They are paid a salary — benchmarked against the national average — plus potential bonuses based on how well their patients do under their care.  Salaries are pegged so that they stay within 80% of the national average, but up to 20% of income is based on teams’ achieving performance goals.”

Click here for the full article.

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4 comments

  1. Frederick M Pevow, MD

    Unfortunately the article reflects popular opinion. However, Americans will get what they wish for and the best and brightest will choose other careers.

    Friends frequently ask my opinion on the pending health care reform legislation and my opinion is simple. When you find a good physician who accepts Medicare, see them at least twice yearly, take as little time as possible, always bring a bottle of good wine, thank them before leaving and send a holiday card telling them how fortunate you are to have such a good doctor.

    Most doctors don’t accept new Medicare patients and fewer will in the fuure.

  2. Hmm
    When lawyers are paid a salary and cannot charge any extra other a predetermined price, when Congressmen and Senators cannot make any money other then a salary based on number of hours in the Congress ( they must pass a board exam every year with CE required on every bill in congress), When CEO are paid just when they make a profit and payback when they have a loss…..then doctors can be paid just a salary!!!!!!!!

  3. As a family Dr. in Phila, my salary never approached that of the Time magazine quote. Besides the years of post graduate education when the salary does not cover living expenses, the high cost of malpractice insurance in the state, approaching $20-40,000/ year and the many hours Drs. work in the office, are on call, visit hospitalized patients, makes this a field that our young medical students find not worthy of consideration. Family practice affords a very special relationship with patients, is time intense, and the lack of adequate remuniration since medical services are compensated by the procedures that are performed, and not time-intense history and physicals including family contacts, specialty physician contacts and referrals, calling pharmacies and insurance companies for referrals, and numerous other duties that are part of the role of a conscientious family doctor.
    Lawmakers, the majority of whom are attorneys, should address malpractice reform instead of looking for ways to cut fees for physicians.
    How can a family Dr. wish to perform a colonoscopy for which they are compensated $300 and risk a law suit for multimillions should a cautery of a lesion inadvertently lead to a microperforation of the colon??
    Time will tell ref. paying for quality care – if it ever can really be quantified and tallied is realistic, or does it just take more health care $$s for the bean-counters. There are bad apples in every field and profession. Do not punish us all for a few bad seeds. Primary care Drs. are very disheartened and only hang on because they truly like helping their patients.

  4. Joe A. Anzaldua, M.D.

    “It’s hard to feel sorry for America’s family doctors. Any job that averages $179,000 per year and lets you be your own boss is a job most folks wouldn’t turn down.”

    Unfortunately, starting an article off with such statements gives the reader the impression that we physicians are just a bunch of overpaid, greedy, and whiny professionals. It does not take into account the number of years that goes in to becoming a physician and all the debt that goes with it. So would “most folks” be willing to commit to a minimum of 12 years of education, and the debt that goes with it? I think not.
    Fortunately, the rest of the article is informative and redeems itself.
    JA

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