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Seriously? Doctors say they're underpaid
May 1st, 2012
10:55 AM ET

Seriously? Doctors say they're underpaid

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

Full disclosure: I have no complaints about how much I make.

But many other physicians are not as satisfied - a recent study by Medscape revealed that 49% of doctors believe they're not fairly compensated. Of primary care physicians, this percentage increases to 54%.

It’s no myth that doctors are some of the highest paid professionals in the country. So why are they complaining?

It’s likely because of situations like Dr. Peterson’s.

Dr. Peterson is a plastic surgeon whom I worked with during my residency. A kind, competent physician, his new, fledgling practice consisted of reconstructive surgery. He treated women with breast cancer, paraplegics with pressure sores, and burn patients.

I was the on-call plastic surgery resident one night when a 42-year-old man - let’s call him Dave - was brought into the hospital at 3 a.m. He had fallen off a roof while intoxicated. Dave broke several bones in his face and shattered his lower leg.

I stumbled out of bed and met Dr. Peterson in the ER, where we spent the next three hours assessing Dave’s injuries and repairing his lacerations. Five days later Dr. Peterson and I performed an eight-hour operation, reconstructing his broken facial bones and performing a muscle transfer to help heal his fractured legs. For the next two months, we visited Dave in the hospital each and every day, changing his bandages and making sure he healed properly.

Not once did Dave thank Dr. Peterson for his care.

Instead, Dave took more than $3,000 from him.

Close scrutiny

Quite possibly no other occupation in the country receives such attention regarding the income its members receive. And that’s not a new trend - more than 70% of respondents of a survey published in the 1985 American Journal of Public Health believed doctors were overpaid.

The Medscape survey found the average physician compensation now ranges from a high of $315,000 for orthopedic surgeons to a low of $156,000 for pediatricians. Sounds pretty good right?

Consider that physicians must complete at least four years of college, four years of medical school, and between three to eight years of residency training prior to becoming a real, practicing doctor. Many physicians don’t start earning “doctor-level” salaries until they are well into their 30s.

A 2009 survey by U.S. News found the typical medical student graduated with $141,132 in debt. The graduates of some schools averaged more than $200,000 in loans.
So how do doctors’ salaries compare with other well-paying professions?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average computer and information system manager earns $125,660 per year. The average lawyer makes $130,490 per year. Orthodontists take home $204,670. The New York Times recently reported the average base pay for managing directors at Morgan Stanley is $400,000. At Goldman Sachs, it’s $600,000. The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million. NBA players average $5.15 million per year.

Just for putting a ball in a hoop.

When you consider these numbers, the thought of pediatricians making $156,000 a year doesn’t seem unreasonable. They often see 50 patients per day, answer our calls at all hours, and keep our kids healthy.

What about critical care physicians? They average $240,000 a year, but are responsible for keeping the sickest of us alive. One-quarter of critical care physicians spend more than 65 hours per week with their patients, not including time doing paperwork.

Unlike most other professions, there is a ceiling to what most doctors can earn. Physician compensation is tightly controlled by the government and insurance companies. Medicine is also the only profession where its members are required to sometimes work for free.

No return on investment

Which brings us back to Dave.

Three months later, I accompanied Dr. Peterson in his clinic to see Dave for a follow-up appointment. Dr. Peterson seemed a bit distracted. At the end of the visit I found out why.

“I’m glad you’re doing so well, Dave,” said Dr. Peterson.

“Yeah, I’m really happy with how things have turned out,” he replied.

“So Dave, this is a little awkward for me, but I need to ask you something. Two weeks ago your insurance company sent you a check for $3,200 to forward to me for all my surgical and office fees.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, um,” Dr. Peterson stuttered. “We never received it from you.”

“No, you didn’t. I cashed it and spent it.”

“Dave, why would you do that?”

“I figured you’re a rich doctor. I need the money more than you.”

What do you think? Are doctors being underpaid? Tell us in the comments below.


soundoff (2,191 Responses)
  1. Interventional Cardiologist

    It's so sad to see the decline of American Medicine. It's also disconcerting to see how much animosity the public has towards physicians in general and their salaries. The system is broken, and there is unfortunately no easy fix. Whether people like it or not, altruism only goes so far, and if you want to attract the best and the brightest, you have to pay them accordingly. There's obviously a breaking point in terms of salary, below which, the best and the brightest will opt to go into other career fields. And I say best and the brightest, because when it's you or your family member that's having a medical emergency at 2 am, who do you want attending to you? It's sad to see the public constantly trying to devalue the services that physicians provide. As physicians, at least we provide a valuable service to our community. What are the wall street & hedge fund guys doing to better their communities? The writing is on the wall. Unless things change, medicine in this country is doomed. Why would anyone want to jump through all the hoops and the BS that is required to become a physician and practice in an environment as dysfunctional as the one that exists today? Look at the time committment and opportunity cost of becoming a physician in comparison to what awaits you in the end these days. Anywhere from 11-16 years of college, medical school and residency/fellowship training while accruing over $200K + Debt, Working upwards of 80hrs/wk in training, no work hour restrictions as an attending, frequent call, life threatening emergencies at all hours of the night in many fields, frequent time away from family, exorbitant malpractice premiums, constant fear of litigation, constant threat of declining reimbursement, non-compliant patients, insurers that deny and delay payment, patients that steal from you without thinking twice. It's great. Really it is. What young, intelligent, highly-motivated college student wouldn't want to sign up right now?

    May 2, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • whatsaquokka

      I agree. I was interested in becoming an MD (I wanted to do plenty of medical volunteer work) but saw how poorly physicians are treated, overworked, and their income is going down every year. Why would I want to give up the next 12 years of my life for that? Instead, I am pursuing a PhD where I will receive waived tuition and a stipend, still make decent money, and have a LOT more time off (ie- weekends). I know from talking to other PhD candidates, that many other people felt this way too.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
    • dyfts

      I do agree that we need to pay doctors a good salary for their skills. Coming out of residency at 30 with 200,000 is a lot to come back from. I have a friend who says he can't even deduct the school loan interest from his taxes because on paper he earns too much, even though a huge percent of his earnings must go back to the practice (which sounds odd to me, but he says that is how it works).

      However, I also think that, like teachers, bad doctors need to be done away with. I have had too many crummy doctors, my friends have had too many crummy doctors, and my family has had too many crummy doctors. I do want to trust and respect my doctor, but it is hard when a mistake can mean life or death. For example, just before my son was born a friend of mine finaly relented at the pestering of her parents and made an appointment with a specalist to discuss her newborn's breathing. Her pediatrician kept telling her everything was fine, and she said she trusted him so was annoyed that her parents wouldn't let it go. Now she is happy for such observant parents because her newborn had a congential birth defect that was causing an obstructed airway. The child could have died and her pediatrician was telling her everything was fine (she did switch pediatricians). It is this kind of thing (I have dozens of examples in my own, my friends, and my families lives) that makes people not trust doctors. I don't want unnecessary tests, but when I say I think there is a problem I want someone to listen to me instead of saying it is normal for an antibiotic to take over 7 days to work. I realize that doctors are not miracle workers, but listening to patients before making conclusions and evaluating concerns should be common place. Instead I don't see this level of care as often as I would want. There are some great doctors out there, but everytime someone hits a bad one it ruins the reputation of others.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      The animosity towards doctors comes from the way patients are often treated in the healthcare system. I think doctors are paid more than enough – if you don't want to be a doctor don't but if you are only doing it for money then don't bother. What lots of people like me see is that everytime they have an interaction with a doctor – the doctor is often arrogant, condescending, abrupt and rude. So don't expect sympathy when you spend your whole life expecting that you are better than everyone else. Even your complaints reveal that you think that you and your profession are naturally better than everyone else – you won't get any sympathy here and if you can't live on your salary and don't want to be a doctor unless you get paid better – just don't be a doctor!

      May 2, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • JimmyPuff

      Jessica,

      If you don't like how doctors behave, then don't go to them.

      I'm sure if people were in and out of my office all day long, begging for medications they don't need for "illnesses" they found on the internet, I'd probably seem condescending to anyone else who came through the door acting like I have no idea what I'm talking about because the internet said so!

      If you don't like what one doctor says, you're more than welcome to go see another. However, don't expect the insurance company to keep paying for your delusions until you find a doctor that tells you what you want to hear.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • MIchele Smith

      Lots of physicians are employed by a hospital. The hospital does their paperwork for them, pays their malpractice and provides them in most cases additional pay for certain quality measures. Many work normal work hours but are on call at least one weekend a month for emergencies. There are many pluses to being a doctor. It is a profession that instantly gives you respect, and gratification for your work. It is true that you could forgo this and be a stock broker or lawyer but it certainly would have no comparision in terms of the benefits of being a doctor. There are many governmental programs that will pay medical school costs in exchange for working in an underserved area for a year or two.

      January 12, 2016 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • Elliot Goldstein

      As a practicing physician; retired for 3 mos. after 45 yrs. of practice primarily as an intensivist I totally agree with Dr. Youn. My colleagues and I are discouraged about the trend in American medicine towards impersonal dispassionate care. We wonder who will take care of us.

      January 13, 2016 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
  2. Nick

    As a practicing physician now for 10 yrs, I hate to admit that medicine has transitioned from caring for patients to abundance of paperwork to avoid litigation. It has not been fulfilling to say the least. In addition, mounting student loans for education (200K) and interest rates have delayed my ability to come out of debt. To add to the soup, the demanding and thankless patients make you wonder where did healthcare go wrong. Athletes and movie stars are paid for entertainment. Healthcare professionals get underpaid for caring and saving peoples lives...whats wrong with that picture.

    May 2, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sundance

      Nick, you are absolutely right. It's a shame. My former husband is a practicing physician, and has been for about 22 years. He says that things are harder now than when he started out. The transition to the new billing systems mandated by the insurance system will cost him $80,000 alone if he wants to stay in practice. Patients don't realize the cost of doing business goes up for medical professionals as well as other industries.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
  3. Matthew

    This story is wrong on so many fronts. I mean especially when you consider that I have never met a doctor that wasn't driving a mercedes or a BMW. I don't want to sound like a dick but you could easily have reasearched the field you were entering and not done it if you thought the compensation wasn't fair. So i guess every doctor should take stock in there career and decide why they became doctors? Was it to help people and promote the general welfare of the population or did they become doctors to fleece society and make a ton of money and play golf all the time. In todays economy I am sure there are a million people who wouldn't scoff at the meager 130,000 dollar income. As far as saying well you should have gone to college who can afford 11 to 16 years of school on my meager 30,000 dollar a year salary or the meager salary of my parents?

    May 2, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ItsCalledDebt

      Sorry Matt, but we can't afford the cost of education either...instead, Uncle Sam fronts the money at wonderfully fixed interest rates as high as 8.5% on about half our loans-which we have no choice of negotiating. SO, before you begin to bring family SES into this, think twice about your statements.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
    • raddoc

      Well I am sorry to disappoint you, but I drive a Prius and had Camry before that. I have never had a luxury car. Almost no doctor I work with drives a luxury car. You need to meet more doctors.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:04 | Report abuse |
    • orthodoc19

      for the IVY league "stud" that went into business: your story has been used several times by the people who were in pre-med that couldn't get into medical school. For those who say this is a service business, you should think it is outrageous that people think it is a right to get medical care, not a privilege. Architecture longer and more time consuming than medicine? Get a clue pal. I have a masters and a medical degree and make around 12 dollars and hour, and will for the next 5 years. I don't argue because people make more than me, but it upsets me when uneducated idiots complain that I EVENTUALLY will make more than them. Every 80 hour week I put in means nothing to you because you do not have a clue. I made more working at the YMCA day camp during college then I make as a resident physician. This is not elitist, because I think anyone who PUTS THE TIME IN CAN be a doctor, but it takes commitment and constant dedication to get through. anyone who puts in this amount of effort (much more effort and work time than 99% of working america) should be paid in the top 1% –> its simple.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • scarf

      I've been in practice since 1988, and currently drive a 2006 Saturn. I dream of driving a car that costs $30K, but I doubt I ever will.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • johnmd

      For your information, I only drive an Audi!:)

      May 2, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jim in PA

      So... you expect us to believe that for every doctor you've met, you know what kind of car they drive? You are either an obsessive stalker or you are simply fibbing about the very premise of your comment.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • one-doc

      Matthew – nice to meet you. I drive a Toyota Tacoma, it is my only vehicle. Sort of ruins the stereotype, huh?

      May 2, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • L

      You are so wrong Matthew. I don't agree with you at all. They are highly specialized – do you want a person who never graduated high school to do surgery on you? In don't think so. This is the demise of this country – people believing in socialized income. A doctor is a doctor for a reason or we would all be one.

      May 2, 2012 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
    • Wifeofruraldoc

      My husband is one of the few remaining rural FP doctors left in this country. If we then what we know today, we would never have gone rural let alone gone into medicine. Drug reps make more money then my husband. He is on call 50% of his life, he has the constant threat of litigation, and he makes roughly what a principal or engineer makes. He's been practicing 12 years and he says all the joy is gone from medicine, with bureacrats making all the decisions and paper work/computers replacing patient care. Oh and we're taxed like the rich though so we don't net much more than an engineer or manager. We drive a 2000 Honda and our other car is a 2005 Chevy Venture minivan. I am constantly telling my children- do not be a doctor. My husband still loves his patients, he still loves providing care when he's allowed to, but medicine is being destroyed in this country.

      May 2, 2012 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bombs

      Haha i drove a 1996 Toyota Avalon with 200000 miles on it till last year, I only got a new car cause the police cited me because of the broken tail light and transmission breaking down

      May 2, 2012 at 21:52 | Report abuse |
    • DrStar

      Wow, a BMW? no. I do drive a Cadillac, but It's old and I bought it from a family member who wasnt going to be able to use it anymore – for $10. Prior to that I drove a honda, which I drove until it wouldnt go anymore – which takes QUITE awhile with Hondas.

      Oh, and Im typing this as I sit in my office on a saturday finishing my mounds of paperwork for the week – time, which, by the way, is not billed or compensated for. My 2 kids are at home with Dad, wondering where Mommy is.

      I dont know about others, but I only get paid based on what I see – which, as a general pediatrician is *usually* pretty straightforward (read: low billing), and only after I pay all of the practice expenses – rent, staff salaries, utilities, in office vaccines and meds, emergency equipment, splints and braces, etc etc etc.

      May 5, 2012 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
  4. Joshua

    Quit your whining. I was premed at an Ivy League college and went the route of business. Life is about choices. If you don't like your path and how much you make, quit and become a banker. Let me know how much you'll like working 19 hours a day 7 days a week and travelling all the time and having clients yell at you. I've never read a more pathetic whiny post.

    May 2, 2012 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnmd

      you went into business because you could not get into med.school being premed at an ivy school! so quit hating the guys who put in the work! And please dont compare flying in business class and hanging out in the b.s sky lounge at the airport to working 80hours as a resident...another clueless person taking an opportunity to bash medicine!

      May 2, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • me

      who you calling a whiner, whiner

      May 2, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
  5. Bazoing

    When I was doing my MPH about 30 years ago I attended lectures with members of the medical profession also doing more advanced degrees. I found the medical schools were pushing the idea that a "surplus" of doctors would be a terrible thing. Could it be that this profession has created a deliberate shortage?

    May 2, 2012 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. John

    ...How many people in the US are NBA players (with a 5.5mil/year contract) vs. how many physicians? He might as well compare himself to a hedge fund manager. And "Just putting a ball in a hoop?"...I could easily rationalize how many doctors just follow a protocol (developed by someone else) and don't have much more to offer than a nurse. But maybe that is why they sue and lobby to restrict the scope of other professions' practices (nursing, optometry, etc.)

    May 2, 2012 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jorge

    All the good doctors I have had have PLENTY of patients, made PLENTY of money and seemed to feel really good about their profession and patients. All the lousy ones, though, seemed to be always griping about something, looking for some alternate money scheme or other and telling me why they couldn't do this or the other thing for my health conditions. It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to choose a good doctor.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. BlondieNYC

    I don't take issue with the fact that doctors finish school $100ks in debt, or that residency is underpaid & overworked.

    I do take issue with an assertion made in Mr. Youn's story about the patient that was thankless and kept the insurance payment (because he needed it more than the doctor).

    1) Sue the guy. The doctor provided a service and should be paid
    2) Don't expect your patients to thank you. YOU should thank US. You have chosen a profession in a service industry. We are your customers. We should be thanked for bringing our business to you. No different than a banker or lawyer.

    Americans don't treat medicine like the consumer industry that it is. And we should.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • katpat

      I think he would have appreciated a 'thank you' because he rolled out of bed in the middle of the night to go fix some guy because of his stupid mistakes. Then he spends hours fixing this guy, and the guy essentially gets paid for the doctor's work. Doctors usually have families too. They also have staff that needs to be paid and equipment to be paid for. It's not like they have an 8-5 job and they go home and forget about everything. $3200 seems like way less than he should have been paid. It's not like doctors pocket that money and go on to go buy a BMW. They get a fraction of that, and then they get to pay taxes on that fraction. Yes, they chose that career. But as the years go on, it gets worse and worse with more government intervention that they likely did not see coming.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      And what, you don't thank your waitress or parking attendant?

      May 2, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I will NEVER treat my patients like "customers" ... This is rediculous and dangerous.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse |
    • Jim in PA

      Nobody should EVER thank a drunk moron for falling off their roof.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
    • Partha

      When you get a disease next time and your C*** gets rotten..You will thank a doctor for saving you..YOU FOOL !!

      May 2, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  9. carolae

    I love it when I have my blood checked every 6 mos. for cholesterol levels and then have to see the doctor for the results. Am there for perhaps 3 mins. while she reads off what it says and then Medicare is billed $245 for something that could have been sent to me via mail! However, am told they will not do that and I need to come in. There are doctors out there that are really abusing their profession.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WorkingStiff

      My wife is an internist. She gets multiple phone calls a day by people who want to "talk to the doctor, It'll just take a minute." She used to do this but what she found was that she was regularly spending 15-20 minutes on the phone with these patients, multiple times a day. This would add a couple of hours (unpaid) to every work day AND make her behind in her schedule with her patients who actually made appointments and expected her to be on time. Insurance, medicare, etc do not pay her for taking hours of phone calls per day. It's funny, if you wanted to save time and pay even $20-$40 out of your own pocket to talk to the doctor by phone to save your time it would probably work out quite well but I am sure you are not. No one wants to pay out of pocket for ANYTHING. Yet they'll pay for massages, acupuncture, cigarettes, beer, drugs no problem!

      May 2, 2012 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • johnmd

      I AGREE with working stiff, people like carol have no clue how billing works...they look at a 245 dollar bill and assume the entire amount is pocketed by the doc....Hey Carol, please get educated on how billing in healthcare works before you make idiotic comments....out of the 245, the doc. might get 40 bucks, and that also has to cover over head and other expensed...it costs us 20 dollars just to generate a bill! So that huge amount you think you are paying, you are not...Like working stiff says, if people would even just pay 50 bucks for a visit without insurance interference and unlmited visits on govt. insurance, much of our problem would be solved!

      May 2, 2012 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
  10. KBD

    I don't think doctors are overpaid. I have had great experiences with physicians and some not so great, but I get how hard the job is, how curcial it is, and how much time it takes to receive certification to be a doctor and why that deserves to be well-compensated.

    Doctors like Dr Peterson wouldn't have to chase patients for money if we had universal single payer health care. They also wouldn't need one or more full-time people in their offices whose sole job was to deal with insurance companies all day if we had USP. And THEY wouldn't have to get on the phone every day to argue with insurance companies to justify their services if we had USP. Plus, USP costs less per capita than the current system.

    Now start the astro-turfing, obufscation, and lies about USP. Oh, and tell us how government can't do anything right but we also have the best health care system in the world...which is highly regulated by the government that can't do anything right.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. marshu

    Think medicine is bad? Try architecture. 5 years of undergraduate work, 3 years of graduate work, 3+ years of internship, 1-2 years to pass your exams. Tens of thousands of debt. Less than a third of new graduates finding work right now. Starting salaries (if you are lucky enough to find a job): $35,000. 50+ hour work weeks are the norm, all-nighters common.

    While the statistics for doctors are bad, they aren't even close to having a monopoly in the undercompensated, overworked department. Stop whining guys – compared to the rest of the middlle class you are princlings.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Your profession is not equal to medicine, your argument is flawed... You do not save lives, your liability is unequal, you are not in a service sector, to name just three.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • johnmd

      your right, architecture is traditionally seen as one of the most difficult educational paths and lifestyle....NOT!!! another genius who has no clue what it takes to become an MD...

      May 2, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      Really Bob? "You do not save lives" – What do you think architects do? Spend 12 years learning how to build buildings that fall down? They prevent doctors from having to save more lives. "Your liability is unequal" – perhaps you should research this. Architects also are liable for their work & can be & are sued. They do have to take licensure exams & have liability insurance. "You are not in a service sector" – Who do you think architects design buildings for? Architects serve private & public clients everyday. Where do you think the hospital came from? An architect designed it.

      May 2, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      As an undergrad I studied architecture for two years before switching to premed. I still enjoy reading architecture magazines and blogs. I got out of architecture because everybody thinks they are an expert in a completely subjective field. Yes architects make a crappy salary and have to go to grad school for a couple of years. (3 is a maximum, some do it in 1). But please tell me this: do you seriously think sitting in front of your desk at the firm is more stressful than being on your feet for 12 hours in an ER, having to make split second decisions that people's lives depend on? I visited several firms where people didn't even wear shoes in the office. Give me a break.

      May 2, 2012 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
  12. bencoates57

    I'll tell you why this story is bogus. The insurance companies send money to doctors - not to patients to give to their doctors.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      My insurance provider sent me the check for an out of network provider. So it does happen.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
    • katpat

      Wrong! Some insurance companies do send checks to the patients! Get your facts straight!

      May 2, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • cogorrno

      Ben,

      That's not true - insurance companies send the reimbursements to patients UNLESS the patient has assigned benefits to the provider.

      This happens more than you think. A lot of patients don't understand that the money was supposed to go to the doctor. One patient told me that she thought that was a reimbursement for the time she missed from work.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Southern Doc

      Wrong !! There may be some states where this is true, but in my state and several other southern states, I know this to be false. The patients are sent the check and are responsible for paying their bills. And as for suing, try to hire a lawyer and take this deadbeat to court for $3k. You'll only spend your time and money and likely get nothing in return, and if you do get a judgement in your favor, you still pay the lawyer 40%. It's a lose-lose proposition. Oh and you can't take the loss on your taxes either. But you still have to pay your employees and malpractice and professional fees.

      May 2, 2012 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
    • Donnie

      To be fair, I've never seen or heard of anyone getting a check from an insurance company. Unless they are a share holder and there is a stock conversion.

      May 2, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
  13. Sean T

    oh boo fricken hooo. poor me, I only make $300,000 a year. if the average salary in the US is ~$45,000, it would take the average worker 7 years to arrive at that number, so if someone chosses to go to med school, good for them, but dont whine about being in debt when at that salary level, you can pay off your debt in 2-3 years.

    now teaches, that is an massively underpaid lot given the crap they have to put up with. and I am not a teacher, but recognize the value of the field to society at large.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Liz

      It takes most physicians over 10 years (sometimes up to 25) to pay off their med school debt. You have absoultely no idea what you're talking about.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
    • johnmd

      Teachers are paid adequately for the work and training required! 9months of work, full pay, get out by 330, a union that wont let you get fired even if you are horrendous, fat pensions after 20 years....give me a break!

      May 2, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Nora

      I'm finishing my residency this year. I will then be doing a 2 year fellowship (still making resident pay). When I'm all "done" and START making 180,00 a year (if I'm lucky), my student loans will be near 300,000 because you are no longer allowed to defer your student loans during your training, you can only "forbear" them and the interest accrues and capitalizes for all those years. It will take me 10 years to pay my loans off with payments equaling about 1/2 of my take-home pay. I'm doing what I like. I like my life. But please don't spread misinformation like it's easy for us to pay off our loans in 2-3 years or that we all drive BMWs. Not even close.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
  14. Brian

    Why is it when drug companies have to pull blockbuster medications off the shelves, there is silence from the medical doctor profession (e.g., Viaxx)?

    Why is it when medical device companies have to pull blockbuster stents or implants off the shelves, there is silence from the medical doctor profession?

    I have an idea why – medical doctors really aren't that smart. I see them as cogs in the wheel; technicians at best, if you will. Show them a medication and they'll prescribe it like it's going out of style. Show them an implant and they'll put it in without question. Then, when it proves deadly or harmful, they say, "oh........well that can't be our fault!"

    Show me the last disease stricken from Earth and I will show you a team of Ph.D. researchers that made it happen, not M.D.s. Medical doctors never cure anything. They simply use what other fine minds have designed and then hey extend no credit whatsoever. Nacissistic parasites doctors are. It's always, " I " suffered, or " I " saved the life, or " I " did this, that, and the other. It's never, "Hey, that nurse saved the patient's life when I was away." Or, "Hey, without that lab girl finding my patient had an abnormal pap smear, I wouldn't have caught that cancer in time." Or, "Hey, I sure am glad someone else designed this life-saving medication, so I can have the pharmacy get you some."

    Instead, it's always, " I " " I " " I " if you know what I mean (NARCISSISM). Share the wealth? Phooey! Doctors wouldn't share the credit (or the money) to save their own lives (pun intended).

    Doctors take credit for everything (biggest narcissists ever) and claim they're not in it for the money.....right. Three trillion dollars in U.S. healthcare each year is going to fall off a cliff and the doctors have the most to lose. Rightfully so – their selfish greed knows no bounds.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BTD

      Sounds like somebody didn't get into medical school

      May 2, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • whatsaquokka

      Any field will have narcissistic people mixed in. However, you are probably misinterpreting a lot of why Doctor's are very "I" and "me" oriented- They are trained that THEY need to make a decision IMMEDIATELY (not gather opinions for months and then have a group vote) and that THEY PERSONALLY are responsible. A Doctor who thinks that "I am responsible for saving this person" probably will save your life faster when you are bleeding out than the Doctor who thinks "I should find a nurse, tech, and other support staff before we save this person".

      May 2, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      BTD: actually, I'm in business, not the medical field – don't want to be, I'm doing great where I'm at.

      Whatsaquokka: actually, the research shows that narcissistic "me" "me" "me" types get very little help from support staff, because of their extreme narcissism, so when those lab techs, nurses, and pharmacists can help them save someone, and don't think they can't, they simply don't and instead let the "mavrick" have at it, which leads to poor outcomes. Why do you suppose there are more than 100,000 adverse event outcomes in hospitals per year?

      May 2, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • To BTD

      Sounds like someone (you) are a narcissist lover, and believe me, they love you too. It's how they get by: with unflappable supporters like you.

      Sounds like you attack anyone with viewpoints not like yours; it's Ok – we understand your love for doctors. You probably have other heros that get paid too much.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      Brian, clearly you have had negative experiences with doctors. However, your generalization that ALL doctors are narcissistic, etc is as wrong as someone else generalizing all the negative stereotypes for businessmen and saying all businessmen are crooks, greedy, etc. I would argue that a far greater percentage of physicians than businessmen are trying their best on a daily basis to take help others to the best of their abilities and within the constraints of the system that they work in. How many businessmen/women are looking out for the interests of others. Maybe you should turn the microscope on your own profession.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      Ever heard of Sidney Farber?

      May 2, 2012 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
  15. KBD

    Never realized there was so much anger at doctors.

    "Show them a medication and they'll prescribe it like it's going out of style. Show them an implant and they'll put it in without question."

    Um, yeah. Somehow I feel much more comfortable knowing that the team that removed my cancerous thyroid gland was trained in medicine rather than, say, having had you or your local auto mechanic removing it.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. laeinstein

    "Feelin sick??? cal your lawyer"

    May 2, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Elizabeth

    What about Medical Researchers?!? You don't seem to realize that medical researchers go to school longer than MDs to receive our Ph.D.s. We are ALWAYS required to work for free...usually averaging between 50-80 hour weeks when we are only paid for 40 hours a week. After receiving our Ph.D.s, we barely make 40,000 while we continue to work 50-80 hours a week. I may not have 150,000 in school loans. I only have 60,000 but its hard to pay my monthly bills let alone pay off my school debt! I'm 30 now. I hope that by 35 maybe 38 I'll be able to make closer to 60,0000.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tammy

      Who's making all the dough off the outrageous cost of Rx drugs? The pharmaceutical CEO's would love to convince us that the money goes to RESEARCH. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.) I'd like to see the salaries of the pharmaceutical CEO's. Meanwhile, the average working sap in America can't afford drugs they need to stay alive. Even WITH insurance paying some of the cost, the co-pay is still enough to break the bank.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
  18. Rebekka

    The fact is that everyone thinks they're underpaid for what they do. There are jobs that are undervalued and over-relied on (such as doctors) that should get more credit. $156,000 as a minimum is a LOT of credit, though. If anyone gets the right to ask for a higher pay, it's the other professions in the same position: police officers, those in the military (right now about 40% of our homeless population in America are veterans), and most of all, teachers.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nate

      I don't agree. None of those other professions require any sort of advanced training or intellect.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • To Nate

      So nate, you do not think those other professions require advance degrees, training, or intellect......?

      Sounds like you're a narcissistic doctor. What do you think about the Fleet Admiral with two bachelors degrees, two masters degrees, and a doctorate from an Ivy League school (I could give you his name)? I suppose 30 years of advance war fighting training, deployments ad-nauseam, and being in charge of two aircraft carrier fleets with nuclear weapons doesn't require any intellect at all, according to you.

      Sounds like you're either a self-absorbed doctor or a doctor lover (and pawn).

      May 2, 2012 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
    • To the person talking to me

      I'm going to guess that fleet admiral makes well into the 6 figures not including great benefits including free cost of living, free school, free healthcare, and a ridiculous pension. He is maybe one of like what...a dozen admirals? I was referring to the other hundreds of thousands of people making up the majority within the broad category of "military and police"...not the .01%. Many of these people join the military or police because it is great option for someone with little education or finances.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
  19. Boo hoo

    Why do doctors say they're underpaid? Because they think we're sucker enough to fall for it.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Nate

    Wow all the animosity towards doctors seen on this board is probably one of the reasons medicine is in such a crappy state right now. Maybe all the doctors should just go on strike one day and then you'll see how valuable their skill set is.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • To Nate

      I have an idea – why don't the ancillary health care workers in hospital, who make pennies and cannot afford to live anywhere close to the hospital, go on strike. Forever.

      How many doctors could actually perform their own MRI? There own microbiology from a wound culture? Know where to begin for meds? The hospital would grind to the same halt, just as if there weren't any doctors.

      BUT, even though others are just as crucial as doctors, it is the doctors who GET PAID. They are greedy narcissists who believe they are the only important critical part of the health system. They'll suffer the most in our looming economic downturn.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • To the person talking to me

      Yet again, these people do get paid well for the education required for the job. How about that nurse or pharm tech performs a double mascectomy or diagnoses your melanoma via a histological analysis?

      May 2, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      To Nate: No, we don't. I'm a nurse with a masters and 30 years of experience and I barely pay bills. Before you spout off, try walking the walk. It's clear you favor doctors, either you are one, or you favor them in an unhealthy manner.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • johnmd

      To Sarah,

      All doctors think nurses are valuable and we could not do our job without their help...but you should realize ultimately that you are not a doctor...you didnt go through the training, and you do not have the same extent of knowledge(even though you think you do as all nurses do), so your salary is limited by your training level...if you wanted to make more in health care, you should have become a doctor!

      May 2, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
  21. Derek

    Doctors do get shafted as far as overtime pay. In residency, they are worked to death but somehow labor law violations are legal. If the plastic surgeon in the story has to get up at 3 am, he doesn't get paid more unlike a utility company worker.

    In my city, a bunch of utility workers were making almost $200k per year because they duped the city into paying them overtime if their shift was over 8 hours, even 8:15. They got paid overtime for the entire 8:15, not just 15 minutes.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. David

    Interesting article !

    Judging from the comments I don't think anyone is really in a position to determine what the value of anyone's time and skill is worth. Should a skilled Neurosurgeon practicing for 20 years with an outstanding track record receive the same compensation for performing surgery as a newly minted Neurosurgeon ?

    How can we justify an annual million dollar per year plus compensation for a hospital or insurance executive who works 40 hours per week ?

    The real question is should the government be imposing price controls on any profession ?. Since 1997 there has been effective price control on physician compensation. Most citizens are not aware of this. The impact of physician price control
    has done nothing to control overall medical costs and it can be argued it has caused just the opposite effect as more and more physicians have become employees of hospitals. See article :

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/04/22/2016905/north-carolinas-urban-hospitals.html

    Most americans today are sufficiently knowledgeable or at least know someone who is sufficiently knowledgeable using information technology to be able to make informed decisions regarding their medical care. For elective services and procedures a foundational understanding of the risks and benefits possible and probable outcomes as well as meaningful conversations regarding cost are well within the scope of the ability of an average citizen. Of course emergencies are something different but the preponderance of medical cost today in the US is spent on elective services.

    Government imposed price controls are not the answer. An informed public willing to accept a reasonable measure of accountability and responsibility is the best way to improve quality and control cost.

    For those citizens who are unable to shoulder a reasonable measure of financial accountability and responsibility.....let's just say there needs to be another CNN piece and further conversation.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jake

    "Medicine is also the only profession where its members are required to sometimes work for free." I hate to break it to ya buddy...But I work in Medical Sales, right next to you guys, and we do everything from service to device evaluations where we don't get paid a dime for our time *or* for many of the products *you* surgeons love to demo. So, I hate to break it to you, but that statement might require a minor revision.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Abdulthebutcher

    If I'm going to look up some fat guy's but I'm going to get paid.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. The Project

    Doctors have to go through 8 years of higher education and at least 3 years of residency, if going through that much schooling and education doesn't earn you a high paying salary then what does? They work hard for their money and have earned it. We need them and they need us.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Tammy

    I'm not arguing with the fact that these guys go to a lot of lengths to become doctors...but, there's no excuse for having to go bankrupt in order to receive medical care. Let's run a blog about how PATIENTS end up losing their @sses over medical bills, end up with judgments on their credit report if they're not able to pay the full amount, have their lives ruined over the outrageous fees that doctors and hospitals charge. For the 1% upper echelon of society, it's no biggie...but, for the rest of America – i.e. people who actually WORK for a living instead of living off what their rich Mommies and Daddies left them, have a real hard time making ends meet, already. When astronomical medical bills are tossed onto the back of the camel, they usually end up breaking the camel's back.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      How true – I'm a nurse and I see patients and their families all the time racked with fear over their looming medical bills. They don't say much to the doctors, but when the doctors leave the room, it's clear the families are deeply troubled over how they will cope. Often, the discusison moves to the "B" word (Bankruptcy).

      Do the doctors know they are bankrupting people left and right? It is the number one citation on U.S. Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies (look it up).

      May 2, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      We have a sue happy society, greedy insurance companies, and an eager pharma industry to thank for the cost of healthcare, not doctors.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • johnmd

      To Sarah,

      Once again a completely uneducated statement by a nurse of all people in regards to medical billing....STOP misinforming patients about the cost of medicine, the vast majority of any bill pays the hospital, including facility fees, diagnostic fees, etc, a fraction goes to the doc...it is misinformed people within our own profession that are the root of the problem! Go take a class on medical billing before you misinform more of your patients!

      May 2, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      @ Sarah–I will pile on here–your statement that doctors are bankrupting patients is ridiculous! As an ER physician treating minor complaints to actually saving lives, my physician fee for an E&M level 5 (complex patient with life threatening condition) is in the $300 range depending on which payor it varies slightly. Critical care (those near death) may add another few hundred to the physician bill. E&M level 3 (average visit complexity–sprain/fracture, etc) is in the upper $100 range. What do you pay your accountant? What do you pay your service technician for your car? I treated your pain, helped your body to heal, maybe saved a life and you think my $300 charge is bankrupting people??? Holy $h!+ You are way off base. I agree that other medical costs, medications, healthcare insurance premiums, hospital fees, co-pays, etc may lead to bankruptcy but my fees sure aren't. For an primary care doc, an average office visit in my area is about $100. He-!! people are spending more than that in the local hair salon! Get your facts straight before you continue to misinform the public.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • Dear JohnMD and ERDoc234

      You both are hiding behind the truth and you know it.

      You hide behing "your" charge and that is a sham that you can defend your actions with. What is really at stake with patients' bills is all of the other charges you mention, but fail to take responsibility for – diagnostic testing, diagnostic imaging, medications, physical therapy, etc., etc.

      Those may not be "your" bills, but they are certainly given to the patient to pay and patients do go bankrupt from medical charges, no joke.

      Guess who orders all of those tests and meds? You do, as doctors. Are they all necessary? Absolutely not. You and I know very well the hospital puts pressure on you to order MRIs, CAT-Scans, and laboratory work, so when the slightest excuse comes walking through those sliding doors, doctors rack up charges left and right, up and down. You saddle these families with debt that is unreal. Those may not be your bills, but they're your fault nonetheless and you know it.

      I've practiced nursing for many years and have seen countless times frivolous testing and meds are ordered by irresponsible doctors who don't care that patients are saddled with the bills.

      Quit hiding behind "your" charge. You know better. OUR THREE TRILLION DOLLAR HEALTH SYSTEM IS DRIVEN BY HOW MUCH DOCTORS ORDER UP FOR THE PATIENTS AND MORE THAN HALF IS NOT NEEDED.

      May 2, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • Bombs

      Wow I can assure you that the physician has no direct compensation over ordering tests but with rampant medical liability, ridiculous patient satisfaction scores, and patients DEMANDING to be checked for everything it is not surprising that physicians order so many tests. Ill give u an example I had a 22 yo girl who came in with chest pain I examined her did a simple chest X-ray, and EKG. I spent 15 minutes with her. The pain was reproducible and explained to her it was chest wall pain likely costochondritis. I told this to her and her mother and recommended NSAIDs. I sent her home with a prescription. What happens next I get a notice from both my boss and hospital administration that she and her mother had complained and stated that I did not do anything for her and that they were not going to pay the bill. How's that for trying to do the right thing

      May 2, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      Did you really just allege that hospitals actually pressure, coerce or make physicians order more tests to make money?! You are one of those crazy conspirists! I am the director of my ER for 10 years and not once in 10 years has a hospital CEO or VP ever come to me directly or indirectly, to "pressure" me to order more tests, more labs, more admissions, more scans, etc. You lost all credibility of being a normal human being.

      May 2, 2012 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
  27. HIghSchoolTeacher

    The problem with the article is that it compared doctor's salaries in the wrong direction. Seriously, a comparison to a professional sports player's salary? Go the other direction. Compare a doctor's salary to a fireman, policeman or . . . a teacher. I've been teaching for thirty years. I have a Master's degree plus enough hours to have earned a doctorate. I'm on the top of my district's pay scale. I work 60-70 hours a week when I figure in grading/planning/extracurricular duties. I'm responsible for the educational progress of 150-180 students a day. I make five full teaching presentations a day. During my "off" summers, I take extra classes, teach summer school, and prepare for the incoming students.

    I earn $60,000 a year, and my medical benefits include an $8,000 deductible for my family, so I effectively have no medical coverage unless one of us falls seriously ill.

    Do I think doctors are overpaid? I don't know, but I know who is underpaid.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MedicalResident

      No one begrudges you your work or what you do. However, the same arguments that you (and others) make against physicians could JUST AS EASILY be made against yourself.

      Oh, you're making $60k? That's more than the average – you should be thankful for what you have. There are plenty of people that would be more than willing to do what you do (and have also put in enough time working to have earned a doctorate, as you say). You have no right to complain – in fact, I would be fine with your salary being reduced. After all, then we could hire more teachers, right?

      Oh, you have a health insurance plan with a deductible? At least you get a plan – many companies don't even offer health benefits. I'm sure many people without health insurance would be more than happy to have benefits while working in a classroom.

      Oh, you work 60-70 hours a week? How about people that work two full-time jobs at minimum wage just to put a roof over their head and food on the table? Sounds like someone should be a little more thankful.

      It's easy to make others look greedy and unthankful when comparing them to people that make less than them, isn't it?

      You complain about being in charge of 150-180 people a day, giving presentations, and actually having to work during the summer. I'm liable to get called in from my home at ANY POINT to come treat patients. I get no vacation; I get chewed out for asking for a day off in order to go home and visit family for a long weekend. I easily see 20-30 patients per day, each of which presents with some kind of problem that could be literally ANYTHING, and I have to figure out what's causing it. I "work" twelve hours a day and then come home and study so that I can give a presentation on god knows what kind of rare disease to my attending or a class of medical students. And I get paid just under $50k to do so! So what were you complaining about?

      Once again, it's easy to complain when you frankly know very little to nothing about a job and look only at the nominal salary of a worker.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • Dear Medical Resident

      There will be a time soon, when our country stops the insanity of $3 trillion per year for health care and then you'll be told to stop whining when doctors like you are only paid $65,000 like so many M.D.s in other countries. If anyone's salary will fall in the coming years, it's medical doctors. Get used to it.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
    • Dear Patient

      There will be a time soon, when you will have a medical emergency like falling off of your roof, car accident, or having a heart attack. The doctors that you talk about in "your future" who used to get paid for their sleepless nights will be working in another industry and you wont get the care that you complain about now but will appreciate in hindsight. Get used to it and good luck.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      Funny! You are right, if my salary falls to "$65,00 per year" I'm retiring to a cabin in the woods and spend my days fishing and I am only 42! So will about 3/4 of all U.S. physicians. That's ok, you can diagnose yourself with a Google search and put in your own chest tube, spinal tap, etc. etc. That is hilarious! Say good bye to healthcare in the U.S. Maybe we can outsource it. LOL

      May 2, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Dear ERDoc234

      Good, then we can all assume if we cut salaries to $65,000 per year, we'd finally be rid of the money grubby physicians that bilk the system with superflous visits, meds, tests, tests, and more meds.

      Then, we'd finally have doctors not in it for the money. In it for the money (like you) means we have doctors driving up our countries health care to $3 TRILLION per year on stuff we don't need. It shouldn't be more than $1 trillion and your salary should be $65,000.

      Doctors are more crooked than not; mixed in with a spot "saved life" here and there. By and large, you're ordering tests, meds, tests, meds, tests, meds, over and over and over and suddenly we're at $3 TRILLION. That's 3,000 Billion Dollars every year, because you "need" to make $200,000+

      I'll see to my own health, eat right, exercise, treat myself with over-the-counter items, and stay away from doctors. In fact, I'm 43 and haven't needed a "life saving" doctor yet. I skip my yearly physicals, blood work, and haven't had an x-ray in all my years. Oh, yea – I've never been prescribed any meds. Don't want them. I think most of our $3 TRILLION is spent on so many unnecessary items, it's unreal.

      Hope you enjoy the econemy taking a whack at your salaries. You deserve it. Hope your funeral provider gouges your family for an $800,000 casket – you deserve that, too, you price gouging lunatic.

      May 2, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Dear Patient

      Lets think about this for a second...you really think that these altruistic doctors who are in it for just the patients would still be around if they had to go through training until they are 30+, $200,000 in debt and work 80 hours a week. I don't care how much physicians want to help their patients, they aren't going make those types of sacrifices of their time and families for the equivalent of $32,500 for a normal 40 hour work week. Listen, of course all physicians want to help patients first and foremost but they should be compensated for what they give up. If there are still physicians willing to work for 65000 for an 80 hour work week after sacrificing 10-15 years of their life training with 200k in debt, please send them my way so I can applaud them. As for doctors being crooked, the system has largely dictated how physicians practice as they do not want to miss anything as lawyers are following ambulances to the hospital to find errors. Of course, some tests and medications are not ideal and are ordered against the standard of care but that is not always as easy as you make it out to be. Finally, thank you for taking stock into your own healthcare and taking preventive measures....that is the key to the healthcare problem. And for your last paragraph...I am a little sad that I took the time to respond to you and hope your life has put you in your place somehow.

      May 2, 2012 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
    • Bombs

      LOL have you been to doctors in other countries? I worked in ERs in Chicago and Miami and in both I've had many patient who fly in from "other" countries drive straight from the airport go go straight to our ER for complication from these "other doctors". I don't disagree that a lot of physicians over order tests but the reason is not what u think. Just to be clear most physicians do not have a stake in the blood tests or imaging tests that ordered we do not get paid anything from the actual test. I would offer to you though that we order so many tests because 1) defensive medicine to avoid medical malpractice, honestly I find a new cancer about once or twice a month from random ct scans, 2) patient satisfaction scores if you don't know this is look up press ganey hospitals will threaten your job if your scores are low thus physicians will often do extraneous tests at the patients request. 3) patient expectation I can't tell you how many times dr. Google has been an incredible detriment, I had pts demanding MRI and CT scans in the ER for something they read on the Internet or DEMANDING an admission to the hospital to "figure" out their problem that has been going on for 5 to 10 years. T
      We have become a nation of whimps and lawyers who over utilize healthcare and sue if the human physician isn't 100% right all the time done immediately at pts demand

      May 2, 2012 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      @ Dear ERDoc234–You are a nut! I did not go into medicine for the money, where did I say that I did? What did I say that implied that I did? My school loans will be paid off when I am 63. I simply made the statement that if I got paid $65,000/year I would go relax and fish. I would have to default on my loans (not dischargeable by bankruptcy), sell my house (average for my geographic area) and move to a cabin in the woods. At least I would be able to enjoy life fishing and not taking care of NUT JOBS like you. I love my job and MOST of my patients are sane individuals. You know, I don't go to doctors or take meds either at 42 and I am thankful for my health. For most however, they will have to enter the healthcare system at some point and that includes you! Good luck and I hope your health holds. We are all a "blink of an eye" from death–accident, illness, etc. Even though you wished me ill will (I don't think I said anything offensive) I will wish you find a caring, high quality physician when you need it–and you will.

      May 2, 2012 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
  28. Chris

    Are you kidding me? Here's what you should do about paying for your 8 years of med school... once you graduate... or are in med school... don't buy the BMW and the great appartment to try to get laid. Wait until you have the job that will pay for all of that and your loans and then start to splurge a little. Underpaid doctors... people just keep getting greedier and greedier.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Alexander

    What is up with the idea that doctors drive Mercedes and BMW. Get a clue. Some, not all have the financial stability to purchase expensive cars. I drive a Toyota and Acura, not exactly on the same class as BMW. Oh and insurance do send check payments to patient. Try and collect from them. Let me know how that conversation goes if there's even one to begin with. Either phone cut off, patient is not home and etc.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jason B

    So where's the follow-up that says Dave's in jail for insurance fraud?

    Seriously, I'll believe a doctor is underpaid when I see one without 5 kids, a boat, giant house, and BMW.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Amy

    I go to the doc – wait 45 mintues to an hour for appt scheduled months in advance and lose pay for time off from my job because, silly me, I arrived 15 minutes early as instructed to avoid an office policy monetary penalty for arriving late. Doc spends 10 mintues with me, which includes 5 minutes of doc's head nodding (did he even hear what I said or is the head nodding just a reflex???) and 5 minutes of writing the same old prescriptions. Doc over charges my insurance company (that I pay for out of my own pocket because I lost my full time job with benefits a year ago and only have part time work for the last 6 months), stating I was "treated" for an hour instead of 10 minutes. I am forced to pay difference between doc's jacked up fee and what insurance company will pay doc, which is almost always the entire fee because my deductible hasn't been met (and probably never will as I have to keep increasing my deductible to keep ahead of the ever increasing health insurance premium). Lather rinse repeat next visit. Many guilty parities in the so called best healthcare system in the world; i.e., doc's starting off with nearly insurmountable student loans and then additional loans to outfit office(s) to begin practice, for profit insurance companies with lousy high premium plans and kung fu grip on benfit dollars, uselss FDA that rubber stamps dangerous drugs/devices purely at the behest of money laden pharma-lobbyists. Patients become victims and taxpayers foot the bill for all. You want to take a look at a healthcare system that actually works? Check out Taiwan's system. Yes, Taiwan. They studied every healthcare delivery system in the world before designing theirs – a single payer healthcare system with high quality healthcare for all. Funny how when you take the profit out of sickness and death, people actually get the care they need, doctors get paid, hospitals don't go bankrupt or need tv commercials to tout their wares and there's no such thing as medicare/caid or insurance company fraud. Too many hands in the healthcare dollar cookie jar have got us here and misconstrued phrases such as "socialized healthcare" frighten people so much, they just want to blame the players in the only game in town. Doesn't anyone remember what we did before there were health insurance companies? How did docs get paid then? I remember . . .

    May 2, 2012 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Jack99

    I admire doctors for all they do, and the system is certainly not fair. BUT try living on $10-$12 an hour 36hrs a week, because that's the only job you could find. That's with 2 years post high school education, because that's all you could afford. The people on the bottom are hurting too, it's a vicious cycle where very few "win".

    May 2, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Voice of reason

    Sometimes people amaze me with how little scope of insight they possess. Complaining for working 80 hours a week try 120. Then start with the complaint of the expense, try purchasing every uniform out of pocket, also you will be required to have a haircut every Monday when you show up for work. Oh do this while not seeing your family for 9-18 months in a combat zone making less the 30,000. Welcome to the life of a truly underpaid service member.

    May 2, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      you can't compare your situation with that of a physician's. Doctors work easily more than 80 hours per week. They work from home, over weekends, during travel. They are continuously getting paged and getting consulted for cases varying from the most serious life or death decisions to stuff like can the patient drink juice. Plus they have to dedicate time and money for all the exams and credentials they have to keep up to date. They have to pay for the conferences they have to attend to learn better and most effective ways to treat their patients. They can be away from home any time a patient needs them. I think doctors sacrifice their whole lives for humanity.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      By the way, thank you for your service. Every career has its value.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • UDM

      Voice of reason – as a military unit deployment manager, try again – I raise the BS flag here. Those uniforms you're supposedly paying for out of pocket? What did you do with your clothing allowance? If you're down-range, often extra uniforms are provided. I thank you for your service – without those of you who are willing to make those lengthy sacrifices, we'd be in a world of hurt... and I truly appreciate it and all the hard work you put in. Your base pay may be only 30,000 – but the military makes sure its folks are taken care of. To include supplying them with a clothing allowance to purchase their uniforms each year. You need a different example.

      May 2, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  34. Jen

    Wow..doctors are so hated in here! I think doctors need more of systems like Kaiser. Decent pay, respect and no nagging, ungrateful patients.

    May 2, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gene

      Kaiser is a wonderful health system.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  35. Renee

    I make over $70,000 a year and have no college debt. I have a set schedule and I'm never on call. I have full benefits, including 401K as well as paid vacation and sick time. I have an Associates Degree from a community college. I'm not sharing this to brag. I'm sharing this because so many people think you have to have a Masters or PhD to make descent money and have a good job. This simply isn't true. I think too that many people want the prestige of having an advanced degree. They would think its beneath them to go to community college. But guess what, I make more money and have a better job than some people who have a PhD. I'll take my little Associates Degree any day...

    May 2, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brigit

      Hope your job isn't outsourced some day - at that point you may have to re-think your associate's degree. Doesn't pay to be too smug. We are all expendable in this economy.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
    • Renee

      I didn't mean to come across as smug. If I was 'smug' I wouldn't have gone to community college. I work in R&D for a major semiconductor company. I doubt that will go to India or Mexico. But yes, anything is possible. We are all expendable. That's one of the reasons I refuse to spend my life working for a career and money that could all be gone tomorrow.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  36. funnyguy

    all doctors should going on a one day strike and see what happens...

    May 2, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      anything is possible...if doctors will be kept being pushed to their limits, that day will come sooner than one thinks.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
  37. Red Herring

    Sounds like a case of a deadbeat patient. It doesn't address the question of whether doctors are underpaid or overpaid. Is the story about Dave trying to elicit some empathy from the reader?

    May 2, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Citizen

    I think maybe doctors need to be clued in to the hard reality of life: not one person who works is compensated for all the work they do. Do you truly believe that if, say, factory workers did not earn more for the company than they are paid they would be employed? Business works on the premise that we each create more value than we receive. And, fyi, doctors are NOT the only profession that is sometimes required to work for free. Attorneys work for free all the time. In fact, it is ILLEGAL for an attorney to not do all the work they agreed to do for a client once that person becomes a client. I know many attorneys, and they routinely get paid for, perhaps, fifty percent of the work they do. The fact of the matter is, doctors and attorneys just have the ability to see how much value they create and receive. Most people in our society are simply working hard and receiving a paycheck with no idea how much value they create for their company. Doctors should be glad to be intelligent, have the opportunity to be educated and revered, and earn a very good living. Of course it's hard work. Life is hard work.

    May 2, 2012 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Realize This

    When will everybody get it through their thick skulls... "Deserve has got nothing to do with it" Never has, never will. Once you realize that, you might just sleep better at night.

    May 2, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jen

    It's funny how people are fine with spending hundreds of dollars each month on cable and cellphone; and hundreds more on car maintenance, restaurants, vacations.... but when it comes to their health... well, they are way too stingy. Maybe we should set our financial priorities right. Oh, for those who really can't afford health care, there is medical, medicaid etc.

    May 2, 2012 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Dana

    Utter BS. "average computer and information system manager earns $125,660 per year" Really?????????????? How come I earn 44K?

    May 2, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JimmyPuff

      Triple your salary and you'll get that 126k. Don't worry though, you'll only have to work 3 separate jobs to make that much.

      May 2, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  42. Mike

    If you feel that doctors are overpaid, Don't see one. Doctor should get paided according to free market economy. Which actually would be alot higher than what it is now! Right now doctors pay is actually fixed by what Medicare determines it will pay doctors.

    May 2, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JonfromLI

      What does "paided" mean?

      May 2, 2012 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
  43. Kaye W, Mathews

    When doctors make more than hospital administrators and insurance company executives, then we should question their salaries. Doctors spend double, triple the years in expensive education, take double and triple the years to become doctors and make less money than the head of a big hospital or less than a list of executives with insurance companies. That is where the most money is wasted in the health field, especially insurance executives. Plus doctors have to carry expensive liability insurance. I trust doctors with my life and believe they should make a very good living.

    May 2, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Work for a doc

    I work for an eye surgeon and I can tell you from experience that my boss (the doctor) has patients come in repeatedly for office visits when their problem can easily be solved in one single visit. Instead, the doctor has them come back again and again and I know it is so that the doctor can get the money for the office visits. It isn't right. Now tell me this person isn't in it for the money! I see this every day.

    May 2, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. PeteInOhio

    Everyone thinks they're underpaid. I've heard this from teachers, lawyers, police, firemen, military people, doctors, IT people . . . . . you name it.

    We live in a capitalist country based on supply and demand. For years, being an attorney was an attraction, everyone flocked to it, the market got saturated with attorneys and, caput, compensation went down. The same applied to IT people.

    Both sides have it right and wrong. It is what it is. If you pick a career for money as so many do, you better research the upfront/start-up costs. And it's likely you'll never be satisfied anyway because you'll never make the amount of money you want to make because when you do, you'll want more.

    Pick a job you'd do for no money, get in that career path and enjoy it. And adjust your lifestyle around your income. And suck it up. The majority of us are the 99%, so we'll be working, may as well enjoy it.

    May 2, 2012 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Doc's Spouse

    If you are preparing to be a physician, avoid Primary Care altogether or at least work for the largest health system or hospital corporation you can find. Don't trust the salary averages in the media.

    My spouse in an Internist (Internal Medicine) now 26 years and unfortunately chose the worst way to practice medicine income-wise, but professionally-personally it is mostly fulfilling (severe administrative headaches!).

    This misfortune here is primary care in small-scale private practice (partner with another doc, also with a great nurse practioner) so overhead, free services, etc, burn up the usually declining reimbursement margins.

    How low is the annual salary here? Well, I saw the job ad for a Physican Assistant recently who was seeking employement at $60 and hour to see patients. My spouse (board certified, experienced, caring, 44 hours a week, 50 weeks a year) has never made income close to that amount, career average under $40/hour earnings, with no benefits.

    The lesson for medical students is to become a PA or NP. The lesson for health care reform is to let NPs have full independent duties in primary care (family, pediatric, internist) and let the career of primary care physican die its normal and justifiable death. Sooner the better.

    For an otherwise great physician, primary care private practice is a missed fortune! You may as well earn what people are going to assume you make, resentful or not tho they be.

    May 2, 2012 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. brad

    Let me tell you something...

    Someone complaining about the 250k I make should come take a step in my shoes. First, you have to run a business and take all the risks that goes along with that. Enjoy having no paycheck and instead sometimes losing money to make payroll. Second, consider the hours. I work 50 weeks, minimum, a year, 80+ hours a week. On call every fourth night and weekend, which means they are totally shot. Lastly, consider the lost earnings. If a physician chooses another pay they will have another 4-8 years minimum of earning potential, which is a big deal along with the lack of accompanying debt.

    In closing, a lot of people out there are clamoring for single payer healthcare and expect docs to just take it on the chin. My response is, ok let's do that, but only if I get treated like every other government employee. I will take my salary of 175k (a 35% pay cut) but in exchange I want the benefits, the time off, the pension, and most importantly the hours. I am going to work my 8-5 with an hour lunch. If you are dying off hours, good luck.

    May 2, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Will S

      Federal salary caps at about 150k, so you wouldn't be happy with that, either. Most of the government research scientists I work with (who have 5 to 20 years experience and Master's or Ph.D.'s as well as student loans to help pay for two to eight years of post-graduate education) earn between 60k and 100k. A handful earn more than that (as in you can count them on five fingers). You have it better than you think.

      May 2, 2012 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • brad

      I know a *ton* of federal employees who are well into six figures. I can name 535 off the top of my head... you know Congress. How about the DoE which is full of them. Trust me, the GS bands can pay very well. For example, a GS-15 in detroit is going to have a salary of ~160k in base pay.

      May 2, 2012 at 19:26 | Report abuse |
  48. Stratocaster

    Now that "Dave" is healthy again, he can be put to productive work in prison for committing insurance fraud.

    May 2, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Will S

      I didn't see the point myself. The doctor will be paid once the insurance company mails another check; Dave will be pursued by debt-collectors. The whole article really is a farce.

      May 2, 2012 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
    • brad

      Will, the insurance company isn't going to mail another check. They paid the bill as far as they are concerned, and they in fact did. Collectors? Good luck collecting debt from dead beats. A ton of medical facilities, including mine, collect payment up front.

      May 2, 2012 at 19:27 | Report abuse |
  49. fred ayers, md

    ditto

    May 2, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. jill

    I make twice as much money as I will ever make going into the Medical field of Surgical Technoloy[no Dr by any means] but its not about the money its about the whole excitement of Medical Technology. It fascinates me. I want to become the BEST assistant to all Surgeons I work with and make their job easier while caring for each and every patient. Sure Ill do more grunt work and make way less cash than the surgeon but I know what it took them to get where they are....No problems with that from me. If I could do life all over again Id become a surgeon. To old now but at least I can get in the field and make some dreams come true.

    May 2, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.