Views on Physician Pay

Really, how many porsches do you need?” has been a popular motto among proponents of Obamacare in response to objections by physicians at the possible pay cut brought on by the bill.  This is a fair statement as most anyone would agree that if you are wanting to become rich, a medical profession is not the best option.  However, physicians do have a reason to gripe in this case.  After 4 years of med school and the loans that one can accrue over this period and the gigantic liability that a practicing physician faces, one would expect to be compensated at least enough to be able to pay off these fees once their residency is completed.

There have been many politically slanted opinions about the effect that Obamacare will have on doctors’ salaries. Many in the medical profession are left wondering, “Will I be able to pay off my student loans?…Will I be seeing twice as many patients for half the amount of money and provide a lesser quality of care?” No one an really say for certain what will happen until the bill is fully implemented.

Many people fear that pay cuts will dissuade potential physicians from attending medical school and cause a great shortage of doctors in our nation.  I think the best way for us to navigate this topic is to look at what the bill will do in theory to your salaries, without a political slant.  First of all, it is important to understand what the goal of Obamacare is.  It’s goal is to lower costs of the American Healthcare system without lowering the quality of care.  It resembles a European style of healthcare, and in this type of system, physicians make less money on average.  In an issue of the journal, Health Affairs, the amount that French primary care physician makes was compared to what an American one makes.

PCP’s in the United States on average netted around $186,000 while a comparable French doctor made $95,000.  How will Obamacare affect the American pay? Well it is widely stated that the bill will cause physicians to be reimbursed at a lower than market rate for Medicaid.  In other words, lower than what they are being paid now.  This could spell doom for specialists such as general surgeons, who see many Medicaid patients for surgery.

With the lower pay an inevitability many believe that physicians will have to see a larger volume of patients to make the same amount of money that they do now.  Many comment that this will cause a large decrease in care as doctors will rush to see as many patients as they can in a shift.  We will continue to look at this issue in the coming weeks with more specific examples of how the ACA will affect you.

Tagged with: , , ,