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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. Mike

    So we are now comparing an NFL player, and his average salary, to a doctor? Lets go with overall earnings then. The average NFL players career lasts just over 3 years, according to the union. A doctors career lasts 30 years. Three years times $2 million a year is $6 million. Thirty years times $200,000 a year is the same $6,000,000. And there are more than 1500 "pro" doctors in the country. How many pro football players are there?

    May 1, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frank

      Exactly. The average salary for an athlete is probably around $500 when you include the fact that 99.9% of aspiring basketball players make nothing, because they do not play professional basketball.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Very good arguments there. Salaries are dictated by marketplace so these comparisons dont have much meaning anyways.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      Except that the medical profession isn't directed by the marketplace like other professions. The number of doctors is tightly related to the number of med school graduates in a given year. The number of graduates is tightly regulated by the medical schools who decide the class sizes. The number of medical schools in the country is tightly regulated by the AMA who has not opened more med schools since ... what the 1980s? despite the burgeoning population because they want to protect their salaries.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • cc

      Exactly!!!
      and what about the risk of a pro football player have?

      May 1, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Mike, pro athletes don't have any type of school to pay pack all the money goes straight in their pockets or more often wasted on cars. Physicians average 200K in debt they have to pay back, on top of supporting their families and saving for retirement.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      @MK the number of students accepted to med schools has grown significantly in the past decade and continues to do so. They are trying to meet the demand of the aging baby-boomers. The only real limiting factor is residency positions, which are directly funded and allocated by the federal government (under medicare), not the AMA or med schools.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • dr f#*k you

      wanna know whats worse than a mountain of debt and only beginning to pay it off in your late 30's? having to deal with an uninformed moronic lay public that thinks a google search can replace 15 years of dedicated study. you people have no idea what we have to sacrifice just for privilege of serving you and your children.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • Joe Dragonetti

      Hey Mike
      So it takes 3 years for the football doe doe to earn his 6 mil. The Doctor who saves lives repairs the injuries that doe doe and his buddies get has to work 30 years to earn the same. I think you need to see a football player to help with your damaged brain.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      @medschoolkid - thanks for pointing out yet another way the taxpayers help out doctors. Other professions don't get a "training" period that's subsidized on the backs of taxpayers and granted forgiveness in paying back loans while also being subsidized by them.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      You're assuming that professional athletes are nto allowed to work any other job after their playing career is over. Remember, these guys received a free education which they can put to work after earning their (on average) $6 million in 3 years.

      So the average NFL player ends up being about 25, has his college tuition paid off, and has $6 million in the bank... While a 25 yr old doctor is... well, still in medical school, accuring his enormous debt.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      Yeah. I'm sure there are plenty of jobs available for ex-NFL players given the stats on head injuries and mental/emotional deficits and issues after playing a few years.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • Dot

      Physicians are not the only profession required to work for free. Educators are required to work without pay as well.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      @MK- A "training period"? Are you obtuse or just ill-informed? Do you realize how much skill, knowledge, and God-given talent it takes to practice medicine? During residency docs are working 80 hour weeks with sometimes 18 hour shifts. If the government didn't pay for it nobody else would. You try living for four years with that kind of load while volunteering. What exactly is it that you do MK?

      May 1, 2012 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      Half the people I know are doctors or residents. So don't try to hide the ball. Almost any profession has a training period. If you think there's, what did you call it? god-given talent? in the hands of the first year resident to handle anything ... um. ... good one.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      @MK – By God-given talent I mean the ability to absorb copious amounts of information in a short amount of time and then having to apply that knowledge in even less time under the threat of someone dying if you can't figure it out or think fast enough. Have you ever tried to read a med school textbook? Consider what is actually going on in a first-year resident's (called an intern) mind while they are trying to perform some kind of difficult task or operation. They are hardly unable to handle anything, just green. And many interns can perform surgeries flawlessly on their first try.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I'd rather make the $6 million in three years and take the other 27 years off.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      One thing that has not been mentioned yet is that physicians also are required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. In a regular job, those few who have to work holidays, make time and half or more for the time spent. Physicians do not. They take call and work those days like it was any other day and must be away from their families. Emergencies do not wait until the next day.
      And any doctor working in a trauma center spends a significant amount of time working those holidays free of charge due to the fact that so many trauma patients who are irresponsible on the road do not buy themselves health insurance.
      When it comes to time and work I see many people quoting doctors working 65 hours a week as pcp and 80 as residents. What you don't understand is that surgeons/attending physicians do not have work restrictions and there have been several weeks that I have operated for greater than 110 hours a week. Especially during motorcycle weather. I do not know of many other people who can say they have regularly worked 110 hours a week.
      All of you who complain about physician salaries should take a step back and think about what your doctors have done to get where they are. And how many things they give up regularly to help others in need. Next time any of you cut your hand carving a turkey on Thanksgiving or have an injury on Christmas, maybe you will feel differently about the guy standing over you to fix you when he could be home spending quality time with his loved ones.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
  2. MK

    Oh give me a break.

    Yes, there's a hefty investment for schooling, as it is for quite a lot of other professions. However, UNLIKE let's say law school or business school, the government will subsidize the loans for med school and even forbearance/deferral during residency whereas they don't do that for law school or business school. Now this may have changed recently given the unhappiness of law school students and their insane private unsubsidized loans (beyond the $18,500 granted for even undergrads), but there are plenty of professional school graduates who have just as much debt if not more than med school grads without the sweet benefits of the federal government backing your education and giving you plenty of time and understanding in paying it back.

    There's also the fact that unlike the tightly regulated medical industry, other fields such as law have no "minimum" salary. If a lawyer goes to work for the public interest, i.e. the prosecutor's or defender's office, they are probably making less than $50,000 almost everywhere in the country. What doctor do you know gets paid that little their first "real" job after school?

    Or how about the fact that the government has specific programs to forgive med school loans if you serve an underserved population. Do you know how long it took to get something similar to that in place for lawyers? Do you know how limited and difficult it still is to qualify?

    Please stop the self-pity. Don't compare yourself to LeBron James or Roy Halliday. There's only one of them with their singular talent. There are plenty of crappy doctors.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      NO subsidized loans. Believe me, we used to get $8,000 in subsidized, but everything now is 6.8% or 8%. Forbearance is pay-based loan repayment. You're still paying back your loans, but because average pay for residents is around $50,000 a year, those payments are lower. That also negates your comment that lawyers but no doctors can make less than $50,000 for their first real job. Some residencies last seven years, that means they make that pay for that long without much increase, even after 8 years of training after undergrads. No one is going to feel sorry for lawyers because they have such a bad reputation as being sleazy and greedy – for every one lawyer that is on the just side of the law, there is another lawyer on the unjust, and they're both saying that they're right. That doesn't happen in medicine.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse |
    • Topanga053

      Agreed, MK. I just graduated from law school with $100k in student loan debt (very close to the average medical school debt of $140k) and I'm working in the public interest sector making well below $50,000. I definitely have a hard time feeling badly for anyone who makes $156,000-$315,000 with pretty much the same student loan debt as me.

      If the average med school debt is $140k and they're making say, $150k, they could live off of $50k/year (I certainly lived off much less in law school) and pay off their entire med school debt in about 1.5 years. Yes, that must be tough.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      How long do you go to law school or business school? 3 years max. Then you can go on to do anything you want. You don't have to become a public defender. For the record the average tuition cost for the top 20 law schools is about $45,000 a year. The cost for one year at a regular state med school is about $45,000 a year. Private looks more like $70,000. Then after med school is 4 years of residency which is paid for under medicare and has a set salary of about $50-60,000. How are you supposed to pay your loans off? And by the way residents have about an 80 hour work week. And as for the under-served programs, they only exist because the salary for an under-served area is considerably less, barely enough to cover loans. Plus how much do lawyers and business execs pay in malpractice insurance?

      May 1, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Doc

      So moronic as to not be worth responding to – but, think about your pro-athlete bias the next time you are in surgery!

      May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      Note I said first "real" job because last I knew, your loans didn't go into active payment status until you finished residency. Maybe this has changed. If so GOOD. Enjoy feeling the pain shared by other professionals.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • Brando

      The total education requirement for a law student is what? 4 years undergrad and 3 years grad tops? the minimum for becoming an M.D. is 4 years undergrad, 4 years med school, 3 to 8 years for graduate medical education before they begin making more than 60k/ year.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • Med Student

      Don't forget to mention 7.9% on those loans that the gov sells to private companies. I'm at a "cheap" school and my debt before interest will be around 190,000. Add 3-8 yrs of residency making 30,000 for 80+hrs a week... What other professional goes to school for 25+ years, saves peoples lives daily and works 80+ hours? I'm not saying we need a pay raise, but it's ridiculous to think doctors are overpaid.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • studdmuffins

      Unlike the legal profession, which can be run out of your home if you choose, a medical practice must be started with capital - a lot of capital. A lawyer can start with a simple office, no staff and, literally, out of a home or apartment. One case for an injury lawyer can, again literally, make an annual salary. And we all know how many injury lawyers there are in the world (watch tv for 10 minutes).

      Doctors do not make nearly enough when you consider all the variance of issues they need to deal with on a daily basis. Life and death decisions are made at least weekly. And let's not forget, malpractice, brought to you by your friendly injury attorney, has doctors paying outrageous malpractice insurance fees.

      Doctors should be the highest paid profession. Oh never mind, that's reserved for athletes who had such a tough time in college with all those phys. ed. classes.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      @studdmuffins - i'm guessing you must be a surgery resident with your magnificent god complex. congrats.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • YC

      @MK
      -Loans definitely come due well before the end of residency. No grace period, trust me, I'm writing checks on my $200K plus debt every month which isn't easy to do with my $52K salary and being told I have to live within a 10 minute drive of my hospital. And almost all residency programs happen to be in major cities with an incredibly high cost of living.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      If you don't like what athletes make, then boycott the games. If you think a lawyer or a doctor is overpaid, then don't see that lawyer or doctor. The market determines everyone's salary. Duh.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • Alicia

      Just thought I'd tell you something about your 50k number. In the hospital where I work, new graduate MDs get paid under 50k for all four years of their residency. Their first year is at 41k, the last year's around 48k. So, as far as how many new grad doctors make under 50k? That would be every single last one of them in my area. Just some food for thought!

      May 1, 2012 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
  3. alex

    It's expensive to stay healthy...period.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reader

      And it is immoral.

      May 1, 2012 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
  4. Ben

    Note the difference* This article was not written to complain about being underpaid as a physician. It's entire purpose is to show that physicians are not overpaid. Everyone does feel underpaid, but name one other person that gets accused of being overpaid, and has nothing to say about it. Being that most physicians work well over 70 hours a week, that means they're working twice as much as many other people but having their salaries compared. So when comparing salaries, you have to think about roughly breaking it down to how much a doctor is making by the hour.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MK

      Uh no. If you're a professional, meaning you owe a fiduciary or other demanding relationship, it is absolutely the norm to work 60+ hours per week.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • Brando

      Correct, if you were to break down an internists salary into an hourly wage they would just about break even with that of a school teacher.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  5. SandBox

    They are under paid because of the insurance companies...not the patients as the patients pays a lot of money each and every month to the insurance companies. DoctorsForUninsured.org has a different idea about the whole thing.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      Maybe they would make more if they were actually doctoring instead of letting the insurance companies doing that

      May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      @Mary–if we did away with insurance and you just paid your bill in cash we COULD just do our "doctoring". Why don't you just pay your bill in cash?? Hmmm....where else can I get a service and then decide later I don't want to pay. Certainly my auto mechanic won't fix my car if I don't pay, etc. etc.

      May 2, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    That "dave" story feels made up. I don't think I've ever heard of a health insurance company cutting a check paid to the order of the patient for a doctor and if they had the patient would then be responsible for the bill. I'm sure the doctor in the story would have simply billed "Dave" for the $3000 and if he did not pay it would send Dave to collections for the amount, thus ruining "Dave's" credit and eventually would be allowed to write off the unpaid $3000.

    Also, when was the last time a doctor was available to be called "at all times?" Is this an op-ed from the 50's? I call bunk on this editorial. Bunk and Hooey.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • w2lucky

      I agree completely.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • christey123

      Not made up. First of all, doctors who are on call at a hospital are required to see all patients that come into the ER whether it's 4pm or 4 am, and whether it is a true emergency or not. And if the patient has no insurance and can't or doesn't pay, the hospital and the doctor eat it. Though if that patient wants to sue the hospital or the doctor for care that he didn't pay for, that's fully permitted.
      And I have had checks sent to me by the insurance company when the doctor is out of network. Yes the doctor can and will bill for the amount forwarded to the patient, but there are more people than you may realize that couldn't care less about their credit rating, and would rather just spend the $3000 "windfall".

      May 1, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm guessing that the check Dave received wasn't from a standard medical insurance company, and in fact I'm guessing he had no medical insurance. It was probably either some sort of insurance that covered only trauma or emergency medical situations, or disability insurance, or he somehow got a payout from homeowners insurance even though it was a drunken fall from a roof. In that case, he probably did get a bill from the physician, got a check sent to him by the insurance but then chose not to pay the doctor's bill. I would assume he will later have collectors coming after him, but he likely has nothing to collect.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • Endocrinologist

      Sorry, I've seen it happen repeatedly myself (one patient went on a S. American fishing trip with the money). And I AM available at all hours. Don't express your disbielief unless you're in possession of the facts. (BTW, I made $8000 my first year out of medical school. Couldn't collectively bargain because I was a "student" – couldn't get a student deduction because I was an "employee" – go figure.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • James

      Sorry "Dan" but this is not a made up story. As a physician, I can tell you this happens all the time. A lot of the time, insurance companies send PATIENTS the checks, not the doctors. You can cry "Bunk and Hooey" all you want, but it doesn't make it less true.

      Out of the top 10 graduates in my medical school class – guess how many went into primary care? ZERO. Guess how many went into plastic surgery, orthopaedics and plastic surgery? NINE of the ten.

      In 20 years, the smartest doctors in the country will be the eye doctors, skin doctors and bone doctors. Are they bad people? Of course not – they're very honorable. But why work 80 hours a week for $100K when you can work 50 hours a week for a just-as-honorable anesthesiologist salary of $300K?

      Full disclosure, I'm in pediatrics. We get paid way less than our adult counterparts.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Tell that to my wife who gets paged by the 24 hour pharmacy at 3 am because someone desperately needs a refill on their Vicodin, or even their Tylenol (because their insurance will pay for it, so why shell out $3?) Additionally, her answering service pages her at least three times a night, every night. The ER calls too, whenever one of her patients is going to get admitted to the hospital.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Rick R

      Insurance companies cut checks to patients every day for medical expenses. I'm a lawyer
      that represents hospitals who haven't been paid. I've even seen patients do things like receiving a check made jointly payable to the patient and the hospital and the patients (two of them injured in the same accident) EACH had a stamp made with the hospital's name and stamped the check so the could cash it. (We know it was 2 stamps because the check had the hospital's name misspelled. One stamp had the misspelling and the other the correct spelling.) We filed criminal forgery complaints and the DA just blew it off.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • Raven

      Well, Dan, you are sadly mistaken. I handle insurance claims for an orthopedic surgeon, and in fact people that have motor vehicle accidents are sent a check with request to pay the portion to the doctor. Most don't. A majority of patients do not care if their credit is ruined and they will verbally tell you so. The doctor I work for, works 7 days a week because of all the favors called into him from friends, relatives, and colleagues. So he kindly takes care of people when he is not on call or on vacation. Not to mention all of the rules Medicare and other insurance companies have when dealing with forms and medical records. It takes time to dictate according to Medicare rules and regulations. I would highly recommend you work with a doctor before assuming anything.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • andrew.peter

      a good pediatrician is on call 24 hrs a day.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • Kent

      Get facts before opining and you won't sound so foolish.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Alexander

      Just this past year (2011), I had more than 20K of my payment mistakenly sent to patients. Guess what happen when we call the patients to ask for payment? Phone cut off. Go figure. Get your facts straight Dan before open your mouth.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
  7. Malcolm

    None of this is even close to the right question. The right question is, what is the discounted lifetime income of a doctor?

    I'm sorry but this is way more than the average engineer, teacher, farmer, clerk, or any other average profession. Do doctors work hard? Yes. Are they compensated more in lifetime income for that hard work. Also, yes. Fine, they don't make as much as investment bankers. It has long been suspected that there is a wage distortion among I-Bankers. That means that I-Bankers should be paid less, not that doctors should be paid more.

    Here's the test. Given the clearing wage of a doctor, is there any shortage of people wanting become doctors? No, there is not. So seriously. Shut up.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • whatthe

      Well stated. Applications to med schools are as high as ever, and doctors want their kids to become doctors in spite of presenting a sorry picture.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • whatsaquokka

      @ whatthe

      You are absolutely wrong- many doctors actually tell their kids NOT to become MDs because of the long hours and decreasing pay.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
  8. w2lucky

    Gee, I feel so sorry for this guy. I served 22 years on active duty in the military. You really want to talk about underpaid? I volunteered to do my job just like Dr. Well-Paid did, and you don't see me whining. You know whose more underpaid? Nurses! You know who's rich? Medical Insurance companies.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karpal

      Totally agree.

      May 2, 2012 at 17:54 | Report abuse |
  9. Sid

    Boo-hoo! Try being a lawyer. Same amount of education, same amount of debt, not near as much income. Cry me a river!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shaun

      Actually lawyers have train for a substantially less time than doctors. First they only do 3 yrs of graduate school while doctors do 4 and doctors have to do residency while a lawyer doesn't. A physician’s residency can be from 3-10 years!!

      May 1, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Your wrong about the same amount of education. Law school is three years, medical school is 4. That doesn't even include residency.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Same amount of education??? You're joking, right?

      Law school: 3 years after college, get lots of money to be an intern during summers while in school. Full paying job 4 years out of college.

      Doctor: 4 years after college, average 4-5 years in residency + fellowship training (getting paid about $55k a year). Full paying job about 9 years after college (11 years in my case).

      It's not even close.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
    • Americaneedsrealists

      I have no sympathy for lawyers; many manipulate our justice system, all are overpaid, their frivolous litigations are killing this country and there are far too many of them .

      May 1, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      It is NOT the same amount of education. Medical school is four years, law school is three. Medical school is always followed by a residency from 3 to 8 years, law school is not. It is significantly harder to get into medical school than law school.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • shocked monkey

      No, NOT the same amount of school, OR school loans. 12 years of school VS 3. 4 to 1 ratio means more money.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
  10. Rad Rant

    I am a board – certified and fellowship -trained radiologist who is unemployed. I have been looking for jobs since completing fellowship last June. So despite lengthy training, I cannot find a job and pay off my school debt or even contribute to the work force. So, no I don't think Docs are overpaid. The bigger issue is the job market and no one is immune to joblessness.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • w2lucky

      Try the VA in Oregon. Thousands of jobs in Medicine.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • Shaun

      Hey Rand we both know that you tried to choose a life style specialty without thinking about the job mark and is just dealling with the consequences of that decision. Hope you enjoy the ROAD !! Also by the way we both know that a radiologist should never complain about being underpaid!!

      May 1, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      As a radiologist I drive a Taurus with 100k miles, cannot afford to put away for retirement, have 150k in loans and have very little disposable income. The public perception that we are all wealthy is wrong.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  11. Sal

    Health insurance companies should all be non profit! They should be run like co-ops, charge what it costs to keep the company in business, make enough to pay all it's employees and that's it. They should not be profiting from the misfortune of the sick and dying. We have a rural electric co-op in my area in north Florida, and they only charge what it cost to produce the electric and pay the employees and for the upkeep of the company. Every year the consumers receive a credit for whatever is extra that the company has made in excess of it's expenditures. That's the way to go. 

    May 1, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Patient X

      Sign me up!

      May 1, 2012 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
  12. Unit34AHunter

    Hey Doctors: your incomes both directly and through the investments in "diagnostics" facilities that, by coincidence, most of you are owning partners thereof, have exceeded mean income growth for forty years by an order of magnitude.

    The day my doctor has to figure out how to pay for the repairs on his Toyota Corolla I will have some sympathy. Until then, cry me a river you mercenary bastages.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DrDanno

      So, when am I seeing you in the office?

      May 1, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
  13. JonfromLI

    I was about to make a comment agreeing that doctors are underpaid for what they do, but when I read into the story that they're including these plastic surgeons, I draw the line. Probably around 99.9% of plastic surgery is done on people who DON'T REALLY NEED IT. Our healthcare premiums are rising because Jane Smith in accounting needs a breast enlargement. Yeah, those physicians need more money.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Endocrinologist

      Insurance doesn't pay for cosmetic surgery – that's why the cosmetic surgeons make so much – no middleman. The story above was about RECONSTRUCTIVE surgery.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • danny

      insurance doesn't pay for that stuff

      May 1, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
  14. Whisley Jack

    Annoyed, i couldn't agree more
    Nicely put.
    I am business as an Electrical Contractor, and i have to compete everyday,and my costs and training equal that of any Doctor,
    Plus on any given day we can Die, what is that worth, when was the last time you heard of a Doctor dying from a work related injury.
    Let them compete like the rest of us

    May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • medschoolkid

      I don't mean to sound arrogant or condescending but Jack you are a contractor, not even an engineer. Your training does not compete with a doctor. Not even close. And I doubt you have that much overhead. One MRI machine costs about $1 million. I think you could buy a fleet of electricians trucks for that.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Knowthyself

      I want to know where you're getting your MRI machines from because I'd be interested in purchasing some of them. That is extremely low. I know of confocal microscopes that cost well over 400k.

      August 16, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
  15. Brad

    One of the biggest problems is malpractice insurance. We need to cap lawsuits. It is common for doctors to run every test in the book, even though they know that 75% are not needed, to help with mitigate the risk of potential lawsuits. By capping lawsuits doctors will be able to focus their energies on patient care, not minimizing potential risk in court.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Americaneedsrealists

      Like I said before lawyers and their frivolous lawsuits are killing this country. Lawyers.....the bain of our existence.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
  16. BJ

    Health insurance companies should NEVER be held as a stock benefiting stockholders. It should be illegal for health insurance companies to be traded as a stock as it is now a conflict of interest. Medical care of the individual should be first and foremost and fare compensation to the people who provide medical care to us.
    People need to take responsibility for themselves to prevent illness and poor health. A good balanced diet and exercise can't be that difficult to practice.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reader to BJ

      All true, but, there a plenety of.... children with cancer. My point is : we can only TRY to control our health .

      May 1, 2012 at 21:45 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      Almost no one tries to "control their health". Smoking, obesity, alcohol, drugs–all rampant. We are ALL collectively paying for people's bad habits. You want freedom to abuse your body great, it WILL cost money and no one wants to pay that bill. Health care would be much less if people actually took care of themselves. I would not make nearly as much money.

      May 2, 2012 at 20:32 | Report abuse |
  17. jstout511

    As a group, doctors deserve higher compensation than the "Wall Street-types." Unfortunately, our society rewards overt greed much more so than the ability to heal. All bona fide MDs are highly intelligent or very bright and extraordinarily dedicated. Not all are compassionate. We should all be concerned that those who have the intelligence to become doctors, but are not innately compassionate, may very well opt for business instead of medical school. The day of the medical profession attracting the best and brightest may be behind us. How unfortunate.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • shocked monkey

      Exactly. Thank you. Tort laws, and other fines, fees, and licenses eat away at that lustrous 150k. I would want the doctor who's cutting my chest open to not have to worry about how he's going to pay his mortgage while I'm on the table.

      No one cares how much the doctor makes until they have to pay the bill, or think they may be able to get some of that money. The doctor heals you, then you could care less how much rest he had the night before. While you're on the table, you better hope he didn't just sleep in a holiday inn last night.

      It never ceases to amaze me how priority and worth are inversely affected by convenience.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
  18. Wayne Cosby

    Runaway greed is a serious problem in all segments of society, and doctors are no exception. We would all be better off if people were satisfied with a decent income. There is another side of this issue that needs to be mentioned, however. There has been growing concern and numerous articles that doctors tend to prescribe many more antibiotics and prescription medications than are needed, they tend to perform many more tests than are needed (and they get kickbacks from these tests), and they tend to perform many more surgeries and other drastic treatments than are necessary, all to the detriment of patients. All of this increases the income of doctors, but also increases costs to insurance companies and patients. There needs to be much more emphasis on maintaining health through diet and exercise and less dependence on drugs and surgeries, even though this would decrease the profits of doctors.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Americaneedsrealists

      Many times they do all the uneeded tests to keep some lawyer from suing them....CYA

      May 1, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse |
    • ERDoc234

      You are an idiot. Do some research. I bill an E & M (evaluation and management) code. I don't make ANY more money for ordering a lab test, x-ray, CT or admitting you to the hospital. Over testing comes from two main reasons–1) fear of litigation-we no longer rely on our judgement because we are expected to be right 100% of the time. If I don't order every possible test for a diagnosis in the ER, and there is a bad outcome (even if no negligence) any person can claim "if only you would have done X test, he would still be alive". 2) Patient satisfaction/expectations–someone else (government or private ins) is paying the bills and the patient "wants the best". This means they will demand unnecessary tests, antibiotics when it is clearly not warranted and when they don't get what they want from one doctor, they will go to the ER or another doctor until they find one that will order the test that they think they must have because Google said so.

      May 2, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Wayne Cosby

      I won't respond to the name calling, but I will respond to the points made. I do realize that the main reason for ordering more tests than are needed is because of fear of lawsuits. It is too bad that tort reform has been consistently blocked in Congress. I have been under the impression that doctors get kickbacks for ordering tests, but if that is not true, then I apologize. As for expectations of patients, I realize that this does in fact put pressure on physicians to do things that are not really needed. This would include both too many medications and too many tests. But it seems that physicians could make more of an effort to educate patients about this. And such an effort should very well include a very strong emphasis on lifestyle changes that would drastically improve health and reduce the need for medications and whatnot. Personally, I am 70 and in excellent health. I follow a very disciplined diet and exercise program, and I do not take any medications. I have not even had a checkup for something like 15 years. The most serious surgery I have had was to have a skin cancer removed a few months ago. I do not have a family doctor, but friends are advising me that I need one in case of emergency. My point is that a disciplined natural health lifestyle does pay off and drastically improves health (I can say from experience), and physicians should recognize this and emphasize it much more strongly than they do.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
  19. IM DOC

    To all of you who are unsympathetic to the plight of doctors, I want you to consider this. In 2 or 3 years when your health insurance company changes and you need to pick a new primary care doctor and you call to schedule a new patient physical and are told the wait is 3 months or a sick visit is in 6 weeks, remember this exchange. Doctors deal with life and death situations. We are responsible for our patient's health. There is alot of stress in our jobs. Unless you are in the medical field, you have little idea of what is involved. If things in our healthcare system do not dramatically improve in the next few years, the doctor shortage will become critical and you will have to pay out of pocket to see a good doctor or be put on a long waiting list for mediocre care. Just something to think about.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reader

      That is why we need a reform for this system

      May 1, 2012 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
  20. Herc

    Don't be fooled by what they charge. Most of them need to charge what they do because the insurance reimbursements are so low. They don't come close to getting what they're asking for. I recently saw an orthopaedic surgeon for a knee injury. His charge was $203, he got paid $83. That's 40%. Follow up was an $83 charge and $23 payment.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Kayir

    Want to see underpaid? Look at PhDs, PhDs PhDs! We go through undergrad, 5 to 6 years of grad school, one (nowadays its two) post-docs and put off having a family until our 30s. We don't get a job (IF we get one at all, many of us stay as grunt-work glorified post-docs under other names) until well into our 30s. Those that are lucky get faculty positions paying the princely sum of $60 to $70,000 a year! We can't get loans to buy houses since our salaries are so low, we don't have retirement funds until we actually start working (even if we had one, we wouldn't have any money to contribute to them).

    Such articles just evaporate any goodwill doctors might have earned among the public. If doctors want to keep their cushy salaries, they might just want to stay quiet. Too much attention is never a good thing.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael Addition

      Exactly. Academic PhD's are way underpaid, plus we only get a 9 month salary yet work 12 months.

      Consider:
      B.S degree in chemistry
      PhD degree in chemistry (but, to be fair, we get a small stipend and pay no tuition)
      2 year post doctoral work (usually in the $30K range)

      Tenure-track Assistant professor (about $60-$70)
      and even after being promoted to Associate and then Full, still often making less than $100K.

      But, after getting this off my chest, I know I'm lucky to have a secure job doing what I love. And, to be fair, I knew what the pay would be going in.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      A school teacher with a BS makes more money than I do with 12 years of higher education. As a PhD, we are told that we are paid small amounts because we LOVE what we do. We are the ones who discover the cures and design the drugs that your MD writes that script for. Sorry, no sympathy here for MDs.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • Americaneedsrealists

      Wah wah wah should not have taken that track should have done something else if you were so intelligent.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • mm1970

      That's why I chose engineering instead of science. And decided to skip the PhD. My spouse went with the PhD, but in EE instead of science.

      May 2, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  22. Karen H

    So far, I haven't seen anyone mention the malpractice insurance factor. An OB-GYN–even if the doctor hasn't had any claims–may earn an average of $180,000 in, say, Nevada, that same doctor has to pay $85,000 to $140,000 per year in malpractice insurance premiums. That brings down the real salary a great deal. At best, the real salary is $90,000 per year, at worst, $40,000 a year. And then there's the medical school bills that have to be paid out of that $40,000 to $90,000 per year.

    Seems to me that the insurance companies are the ones who have everyone coming and going with regard to medical insurance, whether it's from the patient or from the doctor.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TA

      Please, check your facts. In 2008 the malpractice premiums were about 12,500 for internists and pediatritians, and 45,000 for OB/GYN. That's MUCH less than 140,000.

      May 1, 2012 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
    • Ashley

      TA-
      As a medical student that is preparing to apply to Ob/Gyn residencies, I am fully aware of the extremely high malpractice rates that I'll be expected to pay once I've completed my residency program–$200,000 is what they're charging in FL, over $150,000 here in MD according to many of the Ob/Gyn faculty I've spoken to about it. I don't even want to know what they're charging in NY and DC. Yes, there are certain states, such as Minnesota, that charge $18,000 per year. But how many doctors actually live in MN? Please, get your facts straight, and stop spreading lies.

      May 2, 2012 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • BL

      I'm a practicing OB/Gyn in Washington state and definitely agree that compensation is not what it might be. I have to correct you, however on a misconception that many people seem to have. We often say that a doctor has x salary, "but look at the malpractice insurance! that brings it down to x-whatever". It doesn't work that way. My salary is $210,000 per year that's after overhead like paying staff, light bills, malpractice insurance etc. The only things that come out of the amount that is quoted as a physician's salary are taxes and medical insurance, the same as anybody else

      September 26, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse |
  23. Whynot11

    Its the classical disconnect of the people doing the job from the people making the money. From the insurance companies, doctors make 20 cents off each dollar. A doctor will not refuse to see you, but an insurance company...if deemed too expensive, will rather let you die then take a pay cut.

    That is what happens when you turn health insurance into something that you can make a profit from, the only individuals that should be profiting from healthcare are doctors. I think that their compensation is fair but it needs to be more steady.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mr. Meh

    Ridiculous: "Medicine is also the ONLYprofession where its members are required to sometimes work for free."

    Are you joking me? Any EXEMPT position in the US has this issue. After 40 is free work. Most professionals are exempt in the US. Unbelievably the most ignorant statement I have read today. These types of statements are exactly why the perception of Doctors being pretencious come to fruition. It's as if you have no idea how the rest of the world works.

    Comparing your average Doctor salary at a low of 165K versus the Executives of the most prestegious banking firms to 600K might fool a moron, but I think most of us know that the Directors of Goldman and Sachs, aren't probably too differnetly paid then the Board of Directors of most hospitals. Apples to Apples. Compare Doctors to their equivalent workforce in the banking and investment industry if you want. What's the differnece between a Clerk and Nurses salary. What's the average difference between a Doctors and Trader? Saying that Doctors don't make as much as the Executives of an Investment firm proves nothing.

    How many doctors are there? How many executives in banking are there? Now how many NBA players are there?
    The numbers are completely biased. You are comparing minorities in the rich of the population to a massive majority of the rich.

    If the business isn't fruitful, then get out.

    And in your example of Dave: We all that have had medical bills know that conversation doesn't happen. You ask through bills, then you get nastier about it with notices and calls. Then we get sent to collections. "you stole $3,000 of my money that I'll never see." We believe that story as far as we can throw it.

    Now how many of us have been harrassed by medical office bills for costs that have already been paid by our insurance agency? (I don't know too many that haven't encoutered that one)

    May 1, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Americaneedsrealists

      You must be a complete moron, caoparing a bank clerk to a nurse. What are you one of those lowlife greedy investment bankers

      May 1, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Meh

      Only a complete moron that thinks that comparing Doctors to Directors of an Investment Bank is on an completely different playing field. Or I guess I could caopare them. Whatever that is, you twit.

      "lowlife greedy investment bankers"

      No. But I would love to understand what your conditions for those harsh adjectives come from.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
    • Americaneedsrealists

      You must be a complete moron, comparing a bank clerk to a nurse. What are you one of those lowlife greedy investment bankers

      May 1, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Meh

      I found him ^^

      "Comparing your average Doctor salary at a low of 165K versus the Executives of the most prestegious banking firms to 600K might fool a moron..."

      May 1, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  25. Married To a Resident

    They are underpaid, and underappreciated, and work so much more than most understand.

    I'm married to a surgical resident. She is the hardest worker I know. She completed 4-years of undergrad and then 4 years of med school. She was 27 before she was done taking loans out and is currently over 250,000 in debt. She spent another year and her own money interviewing around the country for different surgical residency programs. She did get into a 5 year residency program which is extended for 2 additional years, where she will work in the lab doing research. Seven years making about 45-50,000 a year as a licensed surgeon (not an attending). She will be 35 before she applies for a fellowship. She is considering oncology or pediatric surgery; both are two additional years of fellowship. For nine years she averages 65-100 hours a week. At 80 hours a week and 50,000 a year, that is about $12/hr. I stopped complaining about my hours a long time ago.

    At about 38 years old she will be at an attending level where she will make 200,000 – 300,000 a year. She will have spent more money than most of us on education, have about 15 years of lost earning potential, only to become an attending and pay 50-70,000 out of her above salary for insurance.

    This is not a unique career path; in fact it is quite standard. Her colleagues are all in the same situation. However, they all chose it, love it, are passionate about it, and I couldn’t imagine a different career for her.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that some will agree with me, and some will strongly disagree. That is fine. All I know is that I also once thought doctors made too much; I couldn't have been more wrong.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Thank your wife for me.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • Reader

      This is a personal choice. We should not feel sorry or proud about your spose' decisions. We should expect the best service, like in any other profession.

      May 1, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
  26. Jen

    I'm okay with doctors getting paid high salaries. The amount of schooling and training required justifies the salary in my book.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. carlos silva

    Retired after 38 yrs in practice as a general/trauma surgeon, yes doctors are frequently underpaid and yes abused, the case presented is a very good example of what frequently happens, Yes Dave kept the money that rightfully belonged to the Doctor. I happened to me many times. My unpaid accounts at the end of my practice career amounted to a ver hefty amount, an amount on which many people retire. At present the insurance industry controls what a physician gets paid, its hardly worth the time spent in educating for a career that LIVES DEPEND ON.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. CosmicC

    Our value system is inverted. We argue about whether doctors are paid to much, assume that teachers are, but don't seem to care about the CEO of a company who makes 50 times the front line workers' salary. Quality healthcare should be a right, not a business. Doctors and teachers provide essential services required by all members of our society. Failure to provide those services will result in a failure of our country (we're already seeing that). You get what you pay for; a substandard educational system and a healthcare system that has a primary goal of making money withough regard for the heath of patients.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Agreed- doctors are essential to our modern society.

      That being said, teachers are not. Our education system is a mess and paying teachers more isn't going to solve the problem.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
  29. Sciencegeek

    Seriously?? Scientists spend 4 years earning their Bachelor's degree, another 2 years for their Masters, and another 5 years to earn their Ph.D. They then spend an average of 3 years as a Postdoc before obtaining a tenure track position with starting pay around $60,000 per year. Most Ph.D. scientists have over $100,000 in student loan debt. I would like to see some of these whining doctors try that on for size.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. John

    As a surgeon, my comments are:
    1. if you don't like what your doctor charges, then find a cheaper doctor or do it yourself. I would argue, however, that a cheaper doctor (or one with lots of free time) may be cheaper or more available for good reason, and good luck doing it yourself.
    2. Attempting to compare my education and training to virtually any other profession just demonstrates how uninformed you are. Why don't you get your facts right first, then we can talk. I started my post high school education at 17 and finished at 35, and still have to "train" continuously to keep current. Who else has to do that?
    3. My practice writes off millions of dollars in unpaid claims each year. What other small business has to live with that?
    4. When you have surgery, or are undergoing a life saving or altering procedure, or are under the care of an experienced physician who is improving your life, you'd better hope that he or she is a rock star in what they do; and if they are, then they should be compensated appropriately.
    At the end of the day, who is more valuable to you – your physician/surgeon, your NBA star, your lawyer, your cocaine dealer, your vet, your car mechanic? It's your decision, but I know what my choice is, and I will pay him or her appropriately.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kris

      Agreed.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • andrew.peter

      very well said!! Thank you for speaking up!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • Wayne Cosby

      I do it myself. I am 70 and in the best health of my life. I follow a very disciplined diet and exercise program, and I do not go to a doctor for anything (even checkups). I take no medications (either prescription or over the counter). The one exception was a dermatologist to remove a skin cancer. There is no doubt in my mind that if people in general were to seriously follow a disciplined natural health program, most doctors would be out of a job. However, we know that that will never happen.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • Reader

      John, you put your profession on the same line with a cocaine dealer... Part of you daily activity? I hope not, given the fact you called yourself a surgeon . The skill and knowledge of medicine, gained through the training, you apply as an extortion tool: if patient have a money he/ she deserves to live.. Remind me of Tim Curry in. Rocky Horror picture Show : " I have the knowledge! I am the knowlege!"You are so cynical and open about it-a "perfect "image of a hand holding caring healer.....
      PS I am sure that cocaine dealers make even more then surgeons ...

      May 1, 2012 at 22:20 | Report abuse |
    • md

      Wayne,

      I see many patients who are completely healthy because they do not see doctors. Unfortunately, many of those patients are seen after a major life altering event (heart attack, stroke, advanced, incurable cancer). It certainly sounds like you do your part to take care of yourself and you may have just been blessed with good genes, but much of medicine today is aimed at identifying problems BEFORE they cause MAJOR harm to you with screening (e.g. colonoscopy, mammograms, etc.). I agree we must all do our part to take care of ourselves but that also includes using resources such as physicians to help us do that.

      May 4, 2012 at 00:30 | Report abuse |
  31. Rich

    There are so many occupations where people make more money than they would deserve, if it was all based on how hard someone works and the years of study and apprenticeship invested. Doctors get paid well, but worked very hard to get there and still have huge loans and malpractice insurance bills to pay. I say leave the doctors alone. They're some of the few highly-paid individuals who actually deserve it.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. coastlinecascot

    this article does not state the fees and licenses dr. have to pay yearly on top of their other fees. I dated a dr. for several years. She made less than a hundred grand a year during her residency at a major hospital chain. that starts with a "K". Her yearly license fees alone was huge. So yes dr. are in it for either the ego of being a dr. or the love of helping others. Its not for the pay.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Emily

    I am not a doctor and I will probably never make a salary as high as one, but it seems to me doctors who graduate from medical school today are in a tough spot financially. They work ungodly hours, never get paid overtime, and don't have protected breaks or lunches like nurses do. Sure there are some cushy gigs like dermatology, but consider the following scenario:

    In the first 20 years after graduation, a person goes to med school (4 years, -$150,000), then residency (4 years, $50,000/year), then general practice (12 years, $150,000/year). This person works about 70 hrs per week on average, throughout. Between 22 an 42 years old this person makes an average salary of $26 per hour.

    For the sacrifices they put in, I could see how that would be a disappointment.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Kris

    Many of these posts are talking about how doctors make 3 or 4 times more than people with a similar level of education. Not true. The fact of the matter is that med school is incredibly hard to get into and incredibly hard to endure. The doctors who end up with some of those top-paying jobs (cardiologists, dermatologists, etc.) had to work like crazy to be at the top of their med school classes. It's just like with athletes: is $20 million a year a lot to pay Lebron James? Obviously it's a ton of money, but the owners aren't idiots, and he clearly generates far more money than that. Doctors likewise have unique talents that justify big compensation for them. And this is coming from a lawyer. Law school is far easier than med school. My job is plenty stressful, but if I screw up, a multibillion dollar company might lose some money. If a doctor screws up, they can really hurt someone. That's real stress that few people can deal with. Doctors get paid a ton, but before you rush to judgment, think about whether you'd be willing and able to trade places with them. For nearly all of us (including me), the answer is no. It's not as though doctors all of a sudden starting getting paid a ton just recently. If you just wanted the highest paying job possible, why didn't you just become a doctor? It's not that simple....

    May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. MrApplesauce

    Are doctors underpaid? No.
    Are doctors in too much debt for their education? Sure. Everyone is.

    Let's fix the costs of higher education in this country... along with ending this silly and impractical ideal that every kid should go to college in the first place. We can't have a nation of white collar workers and immigrants working all other jobs that no one else wants to for minimum (or less than minimum, in the case of illegals) wage.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Where is the 'like' button?

      May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
  36. TLO1234

    I agree that doctors perform a needed and important service to society. However, most are doing very, very well financially and are usually overpaid. I knew a radiologist who was making $960,000 per year working Monday through Friday, 8 hours per day, but only for three out of four weeks of a month. And there are many others who are making well over a few hundred thousand dollars per year. Although I would much rather see doctors, rather than athletes, get this kind of money, I don't think in this harsh economy we should all start shedding tears for our highly-paid doctors in this country. Besides, most of them are very arrogant, condesending, and stingy with their time.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. John B

    "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.”

    This is complete BS right here. The medical billing company submits the bill to insurance and the insurance pays the Dr. office directly so this doesn't happen.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adrian

      Insurance companies that are out-of-network will often send the checks directly to the patient – and some insurance companies (even those the doctor may be in network with) may send the check directly to the patient if that insurance company is under the impression that the patient already paid cash upfront for that service...

      May 1, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
  38. danny

    When you break a doctor's salary down to the actual hourly rate, it isn't that good. I am a resident doctor. My salary is about 60,000 per year and this is one of the higher salaries among residents. In our first year we are allowed to work no more than 80 hours per week or 16 hours per day. Do the math, many doctors are essentially working 2 full time jobs.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Me

    Of course Dr.s are overpaid. Comparing their salaries to other overpaid professionals doesn't justify the money they make. I understand the years of schooling arguement and the student loan argument, but I had two Dr.s living in my neighborhood at one point. Each of them made enough money to easily pay off their student loans in less than 5 years. As soon as those student loans were paid off they each built what I consider to be mansions and started buying all the toys they always wanted. My wife and kids still go to these two Dr.s for treatment, because they are good at what they do, but sometimes it is galling for me to look at how much me and my insurance company pay them while we sometimes struggle to afford a trip to the amusement park once a year and they go on lavish vacations on the money we pay them and live in homes three times the size of mine with families no bigger than mine. One of these Dr.s freely admits that as a dermatologist his life is great, because nothing is a true emergency for his patients. Given that, he doesn't think twice about cancelling all his appointments for the day when a pharmacy rep calls and offers to take him golfing.

    I accept the fact that I chose my career, but I have no patience with Dr.s complaining about being underpaid when their incomes already afford them a lifestyle I can only dream of. So while I know there are people making more on less education in this country, Dr.s are overpaid and that is part of the problem with our health care system.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Mike

    To become a physician you have to complete 4 years of undergrad @ 20k to 40 k depending on where you go
    application process requires atleast $5000for fees and interview flights/hotels
    medical school runs about 40 to 50 k per year = 200,000 K
    so the total about before you can even work as a MD is about $365000.
    Then you have anywhere from 3 to 15 years of residency where you make a salary of about 35k to 50 K but will work 80 hours or more per week.
    Then most MD's dont do very good until they are a few years into practice, many need to pay pricey malpractice premiums and fees to practice
    so they really dont do very good for many years!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. dc4sense

    I dont think that regular doctors are overpaid, but then this is not the biggest problem with medical care costs. Look at the radiologist racket. You go to the ER for a broken bone, they take a few x-rays or cat scans. Then they send the images to someplace, where a radiologist looks at all three angles for a few minutes, confirms the doctors diagnosis, then bills you $300 for each image they looked at. They are making someone a LOT of money, not to mention they end up making 600-800K a year.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ERDoc234

      Do you have any idea how much time a radiologist has to spend in the dark training to read X-rays, CT's, MRI's, mammograms, nuclear medicine studies, myelograms, PET scans, in addition to interventional procedures, etc. etc. etc? Do you think it is like looking at a Polaroid? Come on, they cannot miss a single thing or someone's cancer does not get diagnosed. You think you can handle that level of skill, responsibility, stress? Yeah, that's what I thought.

      May 2, 2012 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
  42. JR

    Give me a break. As if plastic surgeons are running around being kind compassionate surgeons working just for free and taking abuse from patients. Have you seen all the crappy breast jobs out there? This story is utterly preposterous. The point of this garbage article is that MD's aren't paid enough compared to what their EGO thinks they should be paid. Did this baby seriously compare himself to a NBA player? With an ego like that, you will always be underpaid. This whole story reeks of self pity "I stumbled out of bed" It's called being "on-call" cry baby, you signed up for it and that's why you make 200K (at least) a year. This whole story is B.S.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Bubba Bravo

    I think y'all need to sit down and shut up with all athlete athlete comparisons. Seriously underpaid? Indeed they are when comparing them to the latest $40 MILLION contract snagged by the Kar-trash-ians! Hummm...only in America!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. TXDude

    The Dave story sounds totally unreasonable! All that work and the insurance company paid $3,000 ???! My son got a small cut on his head and all the ER doctor did was put in a staple (btw he even asked us to clean the blood of his when we got in) and we were charged $2,000 for the 2 mins process (btw we waited for 2 hours.) So I have a tough time believing Dave was charged only $3,000.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ERDoc234

      Go get the bill from the ER doc and then come back and re-post. Would have got an E&M level 3 maybe 4 charge–$200-$300. Then there would be a procedure charge for the laceration repair–could be couple hundred up to $500-$600 depending on location, length, and complexity. Unless he was sedated, then add $80-90 bucks. This is all the doc charges you. Everything else is the hospital, the x-rays, etc. Don't blame the $2000 on the ER doc, that is not honest!

      May 2, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
  45. Robin

    How many jobs require the ability to save someone's life? How many jobs require being on-call on weekends and at night; being woken up at 3 a.m. to drive to the hospital for 2 hours and then get up and go to work at 7:00 a.m.? It is HARD WORK to go through all of that school and not everyone can – or should – do it. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT professions; I, for one, want my physicians as well as my airline pilots well compensated and not stressed; just the opposite of what occurs. It's the business execs & wall street bankers who really make the money; millions and millions of dollars – and not just for a few years. Look at who the really wealthy are; I assure you it's not your typical physician!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. t3chsupport

    As long as health care is too expensive anyway, I really don't care what they have to complain about. I pay about as much every month for health insurance as I do rent. If I didn't have health insurance, and just saved up that money for a year, I still would not be able to afford care in a hospital. Even with insurance, I still end up paying more money out of pocket.

    The solution seems to be making med school cheaper and more accessible, so we aren't straining doctors before they are even practicing.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. John

    He forgot to mention malpractice insurance, which could be $1,000's/month. Doctors have huge expenses.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Gary

    Whether doctors are overpaid or not is not really the issue for most people. The real problem is that we have the most expensive medical care system in the world. Our economy is a mess and many people can barely make it from pay check to pay check. When I go into the doctors, most of the time you don't even get to see the doctor any more but rather a lesser trained Physicians assistant but are charged the same rate as if you actually saw the doctor. Its hard for the person with no health insurance who makes less that 1000 a week to not feel ripped off when he talks to a PA for 10 minutes and it costs him 250 bucks.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. LT

    Insurance companies should pay doctors directly, not send a check to the patient who has to turn around and pay the doctor. I think ‘Dave’ is a looser, how unethical to spend the money that was intended to pay for the services to reconstruct your face. This ‘Dave’ person has no Integrity. A doctor should not have to question where the payment is. The doctor did his job, he should get paid. I doubt anyone here making their foolish comments are willing to work for FREE. Doctors have a lot more bills to pay in order to practice medicine, and let’s face it, we need them.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Chris

    Lawyers do not acquire the same amount of education. Doctors, especially primary care, have to pay malpractice insurance without reform. also, there is in fact a shortage of primary care physicians in this country because of decreased compensation when accounting for insurance, malpractice, and increased workload per physician. not saying they are underpaid, but i have shadowed many primary care physicians; the most affluent are in private practice and get very little time off since they are on first name basis with their patients and can't just pawn them off on other docs. Hospital doctors end up on call. It is not exactly AS glamorous as people imply but no doctor is saying they are poor

    May 1, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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