Sep 9, 2009

A Doctor Drops Question

Dear Cap'n and Blasphemes,

Let's get to the bottom of something. I'm a doctor. How much do you think I should make?

To the folks in favor of a single-payer option should realize this would create a monopsony on health care, essentially leading to the government dictating what physician salaries would be. Now...this isn't necessarily a bad thing for physicians. For example, in the Dutch single-payer system physicians are compensated very well, resulting in salaries which are actually higher than their American counterparts.

My pertinent professional details: Education and Training: 4 years college, 4 years medical school, 5 years post-graduate training. The 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school represent, together, a total of ~$180k of tuition and another 8 years x whatever you want to allot of room and board. Salary during residency is dictated essentially by the US government (socialism!) and averaged ~$45k a year or so. I went "straight through" the system and got my first real job at age 31.

I average 50 to 55 hours of work a week and am available 24 hours a day M-F by phone for my patients currently on treatment*. I share weekend call with 5 other physicians in town.

*On treatment? What does that mean? I am a radiation oncologist, meaning I use x-rays to treat cancer. I am trained in brachytherapy implants for gynecologic cancers, breast, head and neck, and prostate cancer, as well as the use of external beam radiation therapy and stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of both intra- and extra-cranial malignancies. (Got a bit technical there, I know, but I naturally always assume you guys to be intelligent and well-versed in the ways of The Google. I could have said "I'm a cancer doctor" and been done with it.

So... if the US were to move to a "single-payer" system, as dictated by the economics of the situation, the governement's reimbursement rates would essentially dictate my yearly salary.

What do you think that should be? Just curious.

(To note, please do not take the chance to assume I'm one of those doctor pricks who only focus on the dollars- they do exist. Just today I told a patient I would treat her absolutely for free because she couldn't pay.)


Dear OTN,
Thanks for taking the time to write. Just wondering, you know, why? I can't speak for the other folks who contribute to, but I am in support of you earning whatever you are worth.

However, I think you have brought up some valid questions, and I am interested what our readers think. Come on gang. Let's hear from you.

1 comment:

someJedi said...

100K a year and free parking