Monday, April 30, 2007

Pay vs Worth

As further proof that our healthcare system is totally screwed up, I present the following.

On the one hand, we have a family doctor making $500 house calls in New York City which one patient describes as "ideal medical care". (Hint: it's not.)

Then as a polar opposite we have another family doctor in Chicago who chose to go "bare" (that is, go without any malpractice) in order to maintain his solo practice when his premiums jumped from $10,000/year to $40,000/year. Like Dr. Schleider above, Dr. Macumber doesn't accept any third party insurance. Unlike Dr. Schleider, he charges only $40 per visit.

What do they have in common? It is becoming increasingly harder for primary care doctors to practice "in the middle", and stay within a dysfunctional system that forces them to work long hours with inadequate pay. You either have to cash out and go for the high end, or do something radical like not have any personal possessions worth protecting.

In my former job as a staff physician, I calculated that my actual pay rate worked out to about $56/hour if you counted my actual hours worked. While that sounds pretty good, it makes me wonder why anyone would want to subject themselves to at least 7 years of postgraduate studies, amass mounds of student debt and live with the constant threat of being named in a malpractice suit when they could make $60-70/hour doing this.