• People think doctors are greedy bastards

    I was reading Jon Chait discussing a post over at The Corner on Barney Frank talking about the banking bill.  Stay with me; I’ll bring it around to health policy.  Veronique de Rugy didn’t like Conressman Frank’s assertions:

    And if Mister Frank really believes that chasing well-paid employees to go elsewhere is a winning strategy and won’t have any impact on the industry, then I suggest that next time he is sick he goes to a hospital where doctors are poorly paid and see how he feels about that.

    I was going to let this go, but I just can’t.

    Why do people believe that if doctors suddenly made a bit less money, then suddenly the field would be filled with sub-standard incompetents? Seriously?  That’s what people think?

    Look, I’m not saying doctors are overpaid, but – as a profession – we’re doing OK.  If, however, all we cared about was money, then there are faster and easier ways to make it.

    Moreover, if, as may believe, reducing pay would automatically cause the best and brightest to jump ship, then we would assume that right now the best and the brightest would be going into the most lucrative fields.  There’s no doubt that radiologists make more then oncologists, but do we assume that they are all smarter?  Better?  More qualified?

    Do we believe that collectively, pediatricians are less competent than internists because they make less money?  Do we value children so little?  I mean, I’m a pediatrician!  I didn’t go into this field because I couldn’t make it into the more lucrative fields of medicine.  This is what I wanted to do.  Is that so hard to believe?

    Do we believe that all the physicians who choose to go into research (which usually pays less than private practice) are less intelligent and capable? Really?

    Can we stop pretending that this argument has any merit?  It’s insulting.

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    • I am a socialist and I have dropped Medicare. I may not be the best and the brightest, but with 2 bachelors degrees and a medical degree all from ivies ( except the first which was actually at a good small Liberal art college for free and was a good education)—-So taking private insurance to do a mixture of psychotherapy and medication management in the lowest paid specialty me not taking Medicare or Medicaid has to tell you something about the state of health care reimbursement. I am doing what I love in private practice with no office staff but unfortunately found that the “global time” to see geriatric psych patients was so great that I was losing far too much money to take Medicare or the Medicare “Advantage” insurance reimbursement they might have.
      Aaron, what you might be underestimating the debt to time/risk ratio some of the best and brightest might work out if the trend does not change. A like minded/spirited peer of mine who knows they are going to be underpaid but wants to care for people might decide to go into hospice social work, the ministry/rabbinical work, be a school counselor. It is clear to me that physicians are not respected in the God-like way they used to be. That is a good thing. However, we continue to think we are so smart that it makes up for the personal sacrifices, financial losses and being left out of national health care debate and, ultimately, reform. But we have a saying at my house: Get off the cross; we need the wood. I love what I do and am founding a non-profit with a board to serve the uninsured, but I would not advise anyone to go into health care as long as health insurance companies have exemption from the Sherman Act. I don’t care how many journalists get paid to place articles stating that revoking that exemption for insurance companies would have not impact.