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 (15,183 Responses)
  1. Jen

    I think it is criminal the way doctors are shafted by the insurance companies. We all know health care costs are astronomical. However, by the time insurance companies whittle away at the benefits allowed doctors make only a fraction. It is obvious to see why fewer people are going into the field. Who wants to spend 12-15 years in excruciatingly difficult training only to have insurance companies dictate and slash away at your income? The insurance companies need radical reform. I know my rates are ridiculous for what they are willing to pay for. In my opinion doctors SHOULD make great money. How much do you suspect college, medical school, internship, and residency costs?

    September 3, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jordon


      September 4, 2012 at 19:07 | Report abuse |
    • Peter


      The fact of the matter as some have pointed out is that most people don't realize how much in fees doctors have to pay after receiving their salaries. First of all, a significant portion is taken off from taxes (lets just assume 25% as the average, which is quite a reasonable assumption). Then, take in consideration of disability insurance, life insurance, health and dental insurances, malpractice insurance, and paying off $100,000 to $300,000 in student loans, that takes a significant portion. These are hefty insurances (eg. malpractice insurance range from slightly under $10,000/year to over $50,000 per year). That leaves about 50-60% of a physicians salaries.
      Now take into account fees for a physician practice, since private practice is so prevalent, employee compensations. What about transportation, school for the physician's children, food, housing / utilities / clothing. The math is pretty self-explanatory.
      And physicians train for an immense duration of up to 13 years after college, often 33-35years old by the time they actually earn what people consider to be "doctor's salaries" (physicians earn about as much as a nurses in residency and training, maybe a little more in fellowships).

      Finally, if you still skip all reasons (which I've listed above) and still think physicians earn too much. Note that most physicians have very little time to reap the benefits of their earnings. So from what little time they have, I think they deserve to have ample spending capacity as compensation.

      October 1, 2013 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
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  2. jordon

    Being someone who got ran over by an old lady in an SUV, I can say that I had a 1 percent chance. That is what they gave me the first night. By some grace of god my trauma sergeon just felt like he couldent let me die knowing I had two young kids. He spent countless hours and many surgeryies for over two months. He took me on as a personal project. I'm still dealing with the ladies car insurance. The Dr though even though he is owed a lot of money and is just happy I'm alive. He deserves every last penny he asks for. My kids have a dad, so no he is not! Overpaid

    September 4, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamjam

      Its heart wrenching to read your post, so glad you are hear to write it. thanks for sharing Jordon

      September 5, 2012 at 10:24 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      December 8, 2014 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
  3. jamjam


    September 5, 2012 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Virginia Vickie Rocha ortega

    Patients should always sign the signature on cms form, Accept assigment area, this makes the carrier pay the doctor direct......if nnot signed then it goes to patient, carrier doesnt wana give the dr office details on it, just a pd to patient...then a call to patient, pmt sent to ou direct, sending you a stmt today, pt resp is, Remit pmt to us asap...then constant followup- on it....like -.. called you on, - pmt was to be sent us on - etc, ?

    September 5, 2012 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Allan T Sawyer, MD, MS, FACOG

    When I began my residency program, my father (who was a physician board certified in three areas of medicine) warned me that I would earn every dime I made. Seriously, I didn't understand exactly what he meant.

    Twenty years later and fifteen years into the practice of medicine, I spent the entire night next to the bed of a critically ill obstetrical patient who went into disseminated intravascular coagulation after a severe postpartum hemorrhage. We saved her life and today she is a healthy mother of four children. After a year of fighting with her insurance company, CIGNA, who tried to claim that the additional care that I gave her was "usual and customary" and fell within the payment of "global obstetric care" CIGNA finally paid me 368 days after I cared for this patient. Ironically this patient is also a friend of ours, and she knew that we had not been paid for all of the additional care that I had given her. She came up to me just after her daughters' first birthday and asked me if I had been paid by CIGNA for saving her life. I told her that I had finally been paid, but sadly her life must only be worth $137 because that was all that CIGNA was willing to pay me for four hours of critical care time and saving her life. Seriously? Doctors say they are underpaid? Absolutely! Would anyone out there agree that a physician who spent four hours with a critically ill patient through the night, managing her disseminated intravascular coagulation only deserves to be paid $137?

    September 14, 2012 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nbbb

      $137 means one weeks pay for eastern european MDs. But compare to $100-400 per hour paid lawyers that is absolutely unfair amount which is true. It is capitalist system core engine workings that structured peoples pay unequally so the slavery system must be running flawlessly so the few professions in the middle earning unfair huge amounts. A very complex math problem...

      June 10, 2013 at 05:26 | Report abuse |
    • Simon West

      Many businesses have to deal with non-payment issues. The relevant number is your annual salary, which you fail to state.

      Your comment is really just moaning about one incident when you had to stay up late.

      December 1, 2013 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
  6. Luke Keffle

    On average, doctors earn about 200K per year so let's use that as an indicator. Evaluating whether or not doctors are overpaid is based on the outcomes they achieve versus the salary with repsect to per capita income. When one compares the outcomes to the (salary/median_income) ratio, one finds that specialists are overpaid. This is less pronounced for primary care physicians. This doesn't mean that specialists aren't working really hard, but perhaps their hard work isn't translating to better outcomes. There's tremendous inefficiency.

    Doctors can have much longer careers than professional athletes and most investment bankers make about 100K per year. The statement "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," reeks of extreme sampling bias. It's also not a valid comparison because Goldman Sachs is paying its executives with welfare, so they're obviously overpaid.

    September 28, 2012 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ENT4ME

      Can you explain what exactly you mean by outcomes? Life-years saved, for example? Or what is the outcome you are measuring? It's hard to quantify exactly how many life-years we gain by having a person interact with a medical specialist (as opposed to allowing a primary care physician struggle to treat a patient without the option of surgery, imaging interpretation expertise, pathology, or specialist consultation- but I suspect the difference in life-years would be immense.

      Furthermore, once this was determined, how do you value this so that it can be compared to salary? How much is a life-year worth?

      You need to define your terms or your statement is meaningless.

      October 24, 2012 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
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    December 7, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Austin

    He didn't even mention malpractice insurance or taxes which easily take half of that... Really want to be a doctor, (enjoy helping people, and really love anatomy/bio) but this stuff is intimidating especially coupled with the long hours.

    January 7, 2013 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. dr vic

    This article not only mirrors what happens in the US but also the rest of the world. Doctors in Kenya for instance are paid 12500 USD per year for their endless days and sleepless nights. It is this same country that pays its Members of Parliament in excess of 130000USD yet most of them are grossly academically underqualified,morally corrupt and perpetually lazy. Guess what a Minister in the same country gets for Home Servant Allowance? 10000USD per year.

    January 17, 2013 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. MedCriticker

    I am jumping into this conversation late. Dave, sorry folks, did not commit insurance fraud. After the PPO system became common, I worked for a state agency in the 1990s and payments for out-of-network services was made to the patient. A person had to fight to get the benefit assigned to the provider!
    Like a lot of people, Dave cashed the check and spent it on himself.
    There was no obligation to turn over the payment to the provider. Though this may not make sense, this is why many docs have posted here that it happens all the time. Therefore, they should be prepared for the occasional loss.
    Most of the doctors who posted here don't accept criticism. Not every act of a doctor saves a life, and many doctors don't work in hospitals.
    I have repeatedly had to go from doctor to doctor and sometimes emergency rooms for stuff a doctor wouldn't treat, even though it was treatable.
    I live in a large Southern urban area. Most doctors here live in $300,000 plus homes. It's easy and perfectly legal to check them out on the tax rolls online.
    They should read, "The Millionaire Next Door," and they will find that many millionaires live in more modest homes worth maybe $150,000 and driver older quality cars.
    I've not a poor doctor yet, though I did meet one once who was temporarily on food stamps after she made a suicide attempt.

    January 19, 2013 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nikki

      Although you have not met a poor doctor, I do hope you meet a teacher who can educate you. The content if what you are saying is nonsense. I am a physician. And just like anyone else, I would like to be able to receive my paycheque after I have done my job. Instead of attacking physicians, look at your CEOs and insurance company executives to see where your money has gone.

      April 4, 2015 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. W. Lyons

    At times, physicians have been regarded as amoung the greediest and most overpaid professionals. Much of this is based on the media depiction of the Hollywood Plastic surgeon, complete with Malibu mansion, Ferrari, and mega yacht, as well as a few unscrupulous real life doctors who have defrauded both Medicaid and private insurers.For the overwhelming majority of physicians in primary care, the reality, is quite different. As an urgent care physician in the New York metropolitan area, I make a low six figure salary. Hardly poverty, but nothing like what you see on TV. My "mansion" is a two bedroom townhome in Staten Island, my "yacht" is a beat up old sailboat worth maybe 10k, and my "Ferrari" is a 2003 Hyundai Santa fe. Well, at least it has MD plates. to add insult to injury, a few years ago, I was stopped by a cop in New Jersey to see if the MD plates were stolen. He could not believe that a doctor would be driving that P.O.S. car.

    March 4, 2013 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • F. S

      I must say that I find this particularly funny, especially with you getting pulled over in your Santa Fe. I apologize for that. The misrepresentation of the medical profession makes it almost embarrassing to call oneself an MD. A doctor could never truly be paid enough for quality care rendered, but that is quite alright, this is why we say medicine is not as much a career as it is a calling. It's not for everyone!

      May 19, 2013 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Smith

      My son is in high school and working to be a doctor. All Doctors deserve more. Just the time in school is amazing and 3 to 8 years to start getting paid. I drive a truck and deliver to starbucks. Milk and the other things they get. I went to driving school for 4 weeks. I quit 9th grade to start a family. 9 kids later most are attending college. But even I get paid almost 80K a year and I have no loans. I think most doctors deserve 250K base for all doctors. We have a doctor in my town that was doing medical fraud and he belongs in jail. But you doctors are the reason we are all here. heroes PERIOD

      October 26, 2016 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
  12. Jack Daniels

    If doctors are overpaid, then football players, basketball players, baseball players, etc are definitely overpaid. At least doctors save lives, can you say that of any sports player?

    March 17, 2013 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack Daniels

      Oh, and I'd rather their salaries were reversed, doctors should be making the millions that athletes make, and athletes should be making the pennies in comparison that doctors make.

      March 17, 2013 at 05:45 | Report abuse |
  13. underpaid

    BIg Pharma pays their senior admins 60+K a year for a high school diploma. Then they let them work from home more than 25 hours a week. They get their nails done, hair highlighted, everything but work!. Are any healthcare professionals who need brains and have to take care of sick people rain, snow, sleet, shine, holidays, weekends, nights overpaid with this nonsense going on? All because they can overcharge for medication.

    April 18, 2013 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ashley

      Before you write verbal diarrhea into this comment thread, make sure your comment is actually understandable. The grammar is so disjointed I couldn't follow. Are you for or against doctor's pay?

      October 26, 2013 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      Ashley yeah what is wrong w that person?

      November 13, 2015 at 16:22 | Report abuse |
  14. migration insurance required too ..

    my wife recently got a fantastic job in a foreign country .. she had to start immediately ..she has supported me in my career so i decided to move with her with our 2 kids . I am a general surgeon for 7 years to date ..Now i have to 'study ' again to prepare for the board exam for the new country ...I will lose a lot of income waiting for the exam dates , the results,.the verification of credentials , board meetings etc .. which other profession endures these often unnecessary scrutinies and inconviniences .....so whilst we working we need a " freedom to migrate insurance cover " which prepares one for such life events .... doctors are def underpaid ....

    June 4, 2013 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 12, 2013 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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  17. mtbwalt

    Physician pay makes up 7.4% of the medical dollar in the USA, using latest available data from CMS and MGMA.

    Despite the constant insistence otherwise in the press, physician pay is not a driver of high medical costs. If you chained every physician and forced them to work for $0 income, you would only save 7.4%.

    July 24, 2013 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ashley

      Physician pay really isn't a driver, but they're really getting slammed by the ACA.

      October 26, 2013 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
  18. Nancy

    I can make holding your hand seem like the most important thing in the world when you're scared...
    I can make your child breathe when they stop...I can help your father survive a heart attack...
    I can make myself get up at 4AM to make sure your mother has the medicine she needs to live...and I will work straight
    through until 4am to keep her alive and start the day all over again! I work all day to save the lives of strangers...I will drop everything and run a code blue for hours trying to keep you alive!!! I make my family wait for dinner until I know your family member is taken care of...
    I make myself skip lunch so that I can make sure that everything I did for your wife today was correct...
    I work weekends and holidays and all through the night because people don't just get sick Monday
    though Saturday and during normal working hours.

    Today, I might save your life.

    for people who think doctors get overpaid....become a doctor yourself... and then speak

    July 28, 2013 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ashley

      Well said

      October 26, 2013 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • Stephen

      Everything you said is right my 9 children are here because of people like you. Never think the normal person does not know this It's criminal what they pay you guys (Gals) My son almost died from Staph 1 month in the hospital . You guys and gals and nurses the worlds best people no one is more loving and devoted and underpaid then you guys Thank you from the dad of 9 kids

      October 26, 2016 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  19. Heather

    If we compared the amount doctors get paid by asking patients what they believe their life was worth, I'm positive that every single person would agree that doctors are UNDER paid!! It's ridiculous to me how people can self righteously value their own life at such a great expense but under appreciate and undervalue the people who save the "value" of their life and they have the nerve after a doctor has saved their life to look them in the eye and say "I know you just saved my life but you were paid waayyy too much to do that" Isn't that just suggesting that Americans believe that it's not worth the payment of seeing their children and grandchildren grow?

    August 1, 2013 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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  21. Underpaid

    Yeah, I went to school for 7 years too to get the degree to do what I'd dreamed of my entire life. Then I had an accident on the 4th of July some years ago. I stepped into a deep but narrow hole that wasn't visible in the high grass where I was walking. I was taken to the local hospital where I waited alone in the waiting room with no one asking me if I needed anything for 2 hours while they tried to find a doctor to see me. Apparently everyone was out having a barbecue somewhere and the on-call was not wanting to come in on his night out. I had a shattered elbow, broken wrist, broken shoulder, dislocated hip, torn ligaments in my knee and damaged 3 vertebrae in my back. Eventually I asked for some ice because I had so much swelling and the pain was excruciating. It took forever to get it.

    There was no triage and no pain pills and no wheel chair. I sat on a hard plastic chair alone for hours. They took me back finally and ran me through a series of tests before a doctor ever saw me. The next morning I saw a doctor. I had to have surgery.

    The surgery was done incorrectly. As a result, I lost 60% use of my arm. They used screws the wrong size and the bones came apart. I kept saying I could feel the screws and things moving around. The orthopedist xrayed it and told me I was crazy. I finally got a 2nd opinion after 6 weeks and 4 sets of xrays and found out the awful truth.

    Multiple surgeries followed while they tried to save my arm and allow me some use of it. It's my dominant hand. I have bad small motor function, can't do writing by hand except for signatures, can't reach my mouth or the back of my head, can't push or pull, can't lift more than a couple of pounds, have pieces break off the bone from time to time as the years go by which is excruciating.

    I could not take care of my children for an entire year because of repeated surgeries and constant physical therapy and massive pain.

    The doctor got paid, not only by the insurance company but also the enormous sum that was billed to me by him and the hospital for ruining my life. The new doctor refused to testify against him on how badly he had mangled me. I lost my career which depended on my being able to use both arms.

    Guess what... I had loans to pay because I went to college for 7 years. Now I work in customer service making $11 an hour and live in a rental house with a car payment I can barley afford while the doc who ruined my life rides off into the sunset in his Lexus to his fancy home and his boat. My kids are going into debt to their eyeballs to go to college. One of them became a nurse. She wanted to be a doctor but we can't afford to send her to medical school.

    Do doctors get over paid? Hell yes, a lot of them do because this is how they treat people. I know they are not all like this man... but a lot of them are. I've run into a few now because I have so much permanent damage... the doctor who prescribed strong sleeping pills when I complained that I was tired all the time. I told him something was wrong and I thought I needed a sleep study. Turns out I have severe sleep apnea... he didn't want to send me for a study so instead he almost killed me. If it hadn't been for my dog jumping all over me, I would never have awakened and my kids would be without a mother. He kept telling me that it was all in my head because I was over weight. I wanted him to help me lose weight and he'd just tell me to exercise but never with any ideas of how to do that with as much physical damage as I have. He also told me I had carpal tunnel syndrome because of my weight... not because I have to use one hand to do everything. No matter what issue I had... sinus infection, bronchitis... he blamed on my weight. I have heard that a number of other patients were misdiagnosed by him as well and that he has had several malpractice suits against him in the last few years so that he retired.

    There was the "pain specialist" my primary care physician sent me to who did nothing for me and only tried to sell me extremely expensive, non-covered supplements from his office. Right... I have bones grinding on each other and pain radiating from crushed vertebrae... think some of that Saw Grass and Ginseng will help me right out of my pain. He refused to prescribe any kind of medication for pain and discouraged me from using OTC meds but wanted me to spend thousands on his self-enriching nonsense. I worked in a health food store. I know what supplements are for and what I needed them for was not covered by what he was trying to sell me.

    Doctors don't like patients who have an education. They like patients who are stupid and do whatever they are told and spend what ever is asked. There's no power to be had over an educated patient who wants to partner in their health care. And I think that a LOT of physicians go into it, not out of a desire to help and heal, but out of a desire for power, prestige and money. Not everyone is in the top of the class... there's a lot of bottom and middle folks out there too, all too willing to take advantage.

    August 5, 2013 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • E

      Let me boil it down:

      You are overweight. Probably obese. Something that did not happen overnight.

      Judging by associated medical conditions (those you mentioned, those implied), I would find most health care systems and insurance companies to consider you a huge liability and drain on resources.

      Despite that, you found a doc willing to take you as a patient.

      Yet, you are still complaining?!

      October 19, 2013 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ashley

      Why are you blaming a doctor for your own misfortune. Watch where you are walking next time!

      October 26, 2013 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • NAT

      The fact that you have so many problems with so many different doctors raises many red flags. Sounds like maybe some of the responsibility falls on you......

      November 4, 2013 at 21:42 | Report abuse |
    • W

      I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience. My uncle's wife was sick and she went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was sick for a year and the doctor kept telling her she had pneumonia. Then she went to another doctor and was diagnosed with colon cancer, but by then her cancer was very bad. She was sent to another hospital, but the cancer was too bad to be treated. Some doctors are better than others. I hope you will be compensated for all these problems.

      June 28, 2014 at 03:58 | Report abuse |
    • RadTech 2016

      I feel bad for you, but something is not right in your story.
      You stepped into a deep and narrow hole and sustained all of these injuries??? How's that?

      Also, I will never believe that a person who got injured this much could simply sit in hard plastic chair. Nonsense.

      August 6, 2014 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
  22. Liria

    Of course they don't get over paid. Let's not forget the 200K loans in tuition that is paid because of medical school and that is NOT including undergrad tuition and the interests rate that come along with it. Doctors are a slave to their debt and to the medical world and a good percentage don't make it home in time to kiss their children goodnight yet they go home...sleep..and do it all over again.

    August 10, 2013 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. missmsry98

    You fail to mention that Residents are paid, usually more than most people, even with college degrees, could hope to make.

    August 14, 2013 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George

      I'm a resident. I work 80 in-hospital hours per week. I read and prepare to treat complex patients after I get home. Often I have to dictate charts from home. I get 4 hours of sleep on a good night and it's not because I have trouble sleeping. I make an average residents salary - just under $9 an hour (accounting for in hospital hours only). That's after 13 years of school/training after high school and I carry an education debt (Undergrad+Med school) of $256k. I will be 39 before my first real job. Its shocking to me that people try to argue we're not underpaid.

      August 19, 2013 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
    • Ashley

      And normal people don't work 80+ hours a week. Residents used to work 100 hrs plus. 80 hours is the equivelent of 2 jobs. Residents basically make minimum wage or less. Please stop crying and go on to flipping your burgers. Thanks. (I'm not a doctor and make probably a third what one does)

      October 26, 2013 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
  24. missmsry98

    I'm not too fond of their office staff either. I almost lost my leg because the "specialist" office staff couldn't get me in for 4 weeks, when I had explained that my "sprain" was obviously more serious than the other doctor thought.. Yep, I was hopping along on a broken ankle for 4 weeks.

    August 14, 2013 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ashley

      Honestly, if you were telling the whole story they would have gotten you in. You have to be your own advocate. You don't live in Canada so stop crying.

      October 26, 2013 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
  25. Laura

    It just makes me so frustrated that people have the guts to say surgeons are overpaid! Darn, they are deprived of their own personal freedom due to their careers. They spend the majority of their time studying/ working to save people's life! What about Sport Athletes? They are the ones overpaid, and for what? A stupid ruckus over a ball. If people value their lives so lowly that they would prioritize pointless games over them, I'd like to see them cope without the luxury of doctors.... (My rage about this subject is beyond formal words :/ )

    August 25, 2013 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Ashley

    Why on God's green earth would insurance company send a check to the patient?? This isn't car insurance. You can't say oh I'm not sure who is going to fix my face when it was already taken care of. And you wonder why health care is so expensive. Because of drunk dead beat idiots like Dave.

    October 26, 2013 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply

    The patient that spent the $3,000.00 that the insurance company gave him.......IF I WERE THAT DR.....I WOULD SMASH HIS FACE BACK IN AND QUIT THE PROFESSION!!!! It is not about the money just the principle of the matter!!! NO WONDER THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A SHORTAGE OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS!!!

    November 9, 2013 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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  30. jobsies

    They are incredibly overpaid. I have a dear friend who is a surgeon. He works countless hours, never misses a day if rounds, texts and emails patients to check up on them...if you divided the number if hours they put into a patient...it's sad. Let's look at Dave. 11 hours for the consult and surgery. Then visiting every day for two months..changing dressings...even if just half an hour was spent on that, that's what 40 hours minimum..that's $80/hr ... Less than a massage person charges...a mechanic...the maid cleaning your house, oh...and he has to pay student loans out the wazoo, medical insurance in case Dave decides to sue him because he's not exactly like he was prior...

    Underpaid? Definitely!

    January 5, 2014 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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  32. poyhonen

    What if subsidies were to be paid directly to doctors in terms of a co-pay per visit with a value set by the doctor?
    The government has its co-pay subsidy – like Medicare, and the doctor charges the patient a co-pay as well.
    No insurance. No insurance forms, records, billing, salesmen, or lawyers. Just a record of activities already maintained by the care facility and a bill sent to the Government, (State and Fed), and a bill to the patient. The doctor sets the patient co-pay. Such a system would cover everyone, (in the State), and no service would be rendered for zero pay. The doctor can forego charges for patient copay if desired but at least get a deduction for payments not rendered.
    What if?? Any healthcare service members who can please reply or is this a hare brained scheme?

    February 14, 2014 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Blogaloga

    I so agree! I think doctors are extremely underpaid. Annually, celebrities are paid, what, like 10 million dollars for looking pretty and memorizing a few words. Surgeons of all sorts take their time to save human LIVES, and they get paid about a billionth of that. I think that people with professions like teaching, and doctoring should be the ones who can afford thousand dollar shoes

    March 4, 2014 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. laytonlang

    Anthony, you did not mention that during the Physicians’ training period, they are compensated. Your article should have compared and contrasted a physician’s training and carrier path to an upper level business manager who would be making the same amount of money. Many of them possess MBAs, which requires 6 years of college. When they get out and begin working at age 24, they are making entry level salaries. With luck and skill, like physicians in training, they will succeed in all challenges and advance in the company. By the time they are in their mid to late 30"s, they will be making an income comparable to a physician. So, what is the difference?

    March 6, 2014 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josh

      The big difference is that doctor's don't begin making any money at 24. If the Doctor in training starts medical school right after college at 22. They will not get paid a salary until they start residency 4 years later at 26 ish. So your MBA graduate has been earning income for two years at his/her firm before the newly minted doctor has even started residency

      July 23, 2014 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      Also to piggyback off of the person above me, residents do not make the same salary as an attending. Residents make on average around $55,000-$65,000 per YEAR. So your example of the MBA student does not correlate to this situation since that MBA graduate makes on average $100,000 STARTING SALARY.
      However, that MBA graduate only works the standard 40-hour work week and helps keep money to come into the company. Whereas the resident makes half of that, has triple the amount of student loan debt, works 60-hour work weeks and saves lives.
      Underpaid is an understatement.

      November 28, 2015 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
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  36. Dr. G

    I am a current cardiology fellow....I'm 33 years old I won't be done with training until I'm 35 years old at which point I will have spent 15 years after graduating high school becoming an interventional cardiologist. This is 4 years undergrad , 4 years med school and 7 years resident and fellow training. With thanks to compounding interest I will have $450k in loans to look forward to when I actually start earning "doctors pay." I want anyone to dare tell me that I make too much for being called in at any random hour to come to the hospital to save a life from a heart attack, while exposing myself to the dangers of radiation, blood born illness and the possibility of being sued if something goes wrong and oh did I mention someone's life hangs in the balance?! All to make about $1000-1500...really!!! I've paid more for a root canal. Did I forget to mention that my typical work week is about 70-80 hrs with 4 days off the entire month! No where else in the world do dr work more, pay more for their education and are used more frequently than here in the US. If this trend continues you will have one of 2 scenarios less qualified people becoming drs or there will be such a short supply that it will take 6 months to see a dr. This keeps up good luck keeping Drs like me willing to put their and their families lives on hold to save yours.

    May 3, 2014 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heath IT

      I am not sure where you got your figure but a cardiologist on average will be paid about $350k for the current fiscal year. Additionally why we all respect the opportunity cost that you must pay in order to provide us with quality health care in this country you must also understand that High education costs an low salaries are something that effects most high level professions these days. For example many MBA programs cost about $55,000 for the 2013-2014 year not room, board, books and other miscellaneous costs are not included in these figures which would only be added to any legacy debt that you are carrying from undergrad. Additionally the average starting salary outside of the nations top 10 B-schools hovers right around 85K giver or take a few grand. Also like you upon graduation you will be expected to and do work 70-80 hour weeks, there have been numerous time where I myself have worked 100 weeks to launch a new IT system at various hospitals around the country.

      Just saying ts hard on everyone right now, but at the least assuming you can adapt to a changing healthcare environment and increased technological utilization you are not overly vulnerable to the same market forces that many of the rest of us are.

      November 19, 2014 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
  37. David Anderson

    My question concerning Doctor's pay: When doctors make comments such as the comments of this doctor, how do doctors justify asking for more money? Please follow the link to this court case to see what I am talking about:


    It is things like this that turns the general public's stomach................

    May 8, 2014 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr B

      In response to the article link you posted:
      For taking on that one patient under their care that doctor put over $1million dollars on the line. They are not paid enough to deal with this constant excess of liability. Although they have expensive malpractice their malpractice will increase anytime anything is reported against them. There are also limits to malpractice and if another suit were filed in the same year the doctor may have his & his families personal assets taken away as well. (Ive been made fun of many time & did not get any money much less 1mill). (I get made fun of, yelled at, attacked, belittled and exposed to pathogens, by patients DAILY and receive no compensation from them in exchange whatsoever. All I get to do is “fire”, or refuse, them as patients from that point on) Many doctors are turning away or “firing” "high risk" patients whom feel may potentially sue them. You can often anticipate difficult patients and guess what you are not worth our time. If you see me ill refer you to a “specialist” or not follow up with you bc you’re not worth my pay.
      Yes, the discussions had by the doctors in this article were offensively inappropriate. Syphillis is a contagion which should be discussed but not mocked. The doctors did not give consent to be recorded. The patient however did sign a waiver to have his medical issues and prescription meds discussed between all staff present. All other jokes made were not professional or humane by any means. This is also a result of less educated/respectful people becoming doctors because the compensation is not sufficient for others to want to strive for it. if you came and saw me in my practice expressing the views you have you wouldn’t receive as much attention as others. Im not paid to be your Mr nice guy.

      August 28, 2014 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
    • Maxwell

      Dr B, your argument in regards to not having ever received compensation for being made fun of holds no water. Doctors are & should be held to a higher standard, especially in regards to how they treat their patients. There would have been no grounds to sue, nor would a judgement against her be rendered had she made such comments about a non patient while walking down the street. There is simply no comparison. In addition, she illegally revealed private medical records.

      November 21, 2015 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
  38. Brit

    Doctors have it no worse than anyone else! Oh, doctors only make minimum wage straight out of school? So do most entry level workers... Honestly, in what other profession can you spend 5 minutes with your client and charge $150?

    June 20, 2014 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really?

      um...how much of the $120 does the doctor actually get back? He/She is LUCKY to get a $60 reimbursement from the insurance company, now out of the $60, he/she has to pay the staff, rent, medical supplies, etc. Lucky if they get $15 by the end of the fight? Why the initial $120 bill? Because if doctor's charged $60 the insurance company would THINK about sending $30. Gotta look at the big picture, dude. Open up those horizons, it might do you some good.

      June 26, 2014 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      Doctors do not get paid $120 for 5 minutes. Haven't you ever watched Dr. House? Doctors think deeply about their patients, chart, write letters, fill out forms, return phone calls, get awakened in the middle of the night. Do you think they get paid for all of that? No–it's bundled into the $120 fee, of which they probably get about $60 for. Do you also have a problem paying your plumber or electrician $90 to come to your house just to change a washer or lightbulb? How about paying $50 for gas for your car while the oil execs get paid millions? The $120 is for years of training, education, nights studying, missed Christmas and Thanksgivings, so that doctor can make a decision in 5 minutes being confident that the diagnosis is correct.

      July 31, 2014 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
  39. jeromy

    Not even slightly, massively underpaid. They have no life outside if work either. What's the point of that paycheck if they have no time or family to spend it with??

    July 16, 2014 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. raddoc

    This type of patient is why we need a single payer system. The doctor would have definitely gotten paid (probably more than what was most likely an out of network payment by the insurer since it went directly to the patient), and it wouldn't have been left up to this type of degenerate to forward the insurance payment. It would also solve the cost problem, by having everyone pay into the system, allowing the fortunate healthy to subsidize the unfortunate sick (how any insurance system should work). We have the most expensive system in the world by far, and yet our system is ranked dead last in the developed world and 37th worldwide (just above Slovenia). It's time for doctors and politicians to understand the big picture here, and effect the type of changes that would benefit the society at large. Right now, the system benefits the insurers, pharma companies, and in some cases health care providers (e.g. the hospitals who get more than twice what an outpatient center gets for the same services) who can successfully game the system and funnel profits their way. Yes, the vast majority of doctors are very underpaid for the amount of hours, responsibility, technical skill, and stress their jobs exact, but that is not the whole story.

    August 9, 2014 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. typical MD

    My husband and I are both physicians. We graduated from med school $300,000 in debt and expect to have this paid off 3 years shy of retirement. I work 60 hrs/week (and am considered 'part time'), he works 80 hrs/week. We have young children (one with special needs) and aging parents whose needs take up pretty much all of our 'off' time. We typically have one weekend/month off together, and one of us is usually working 2/3 of all holidays. In addition to the office/hospital hours we work, he is on call every third night, I every fourth (that translates to about half of all nights being sleepless for one/both of us). Last year my ENTIRE paycheck went to paying taxes. There are no breaks for us – we pay top dollar for everything (our own healthcare, childcare, college tuition when the time comes). I drive a crappy old car with 120,000 miles on it. Last year we 'vacationed" for one of the 2 weeks off we get a year in a crappy motel because that's what we could afford. Underpaid? Yup.

    December 28, 2014 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. l swid

    i don't get what these "gods" are complaining about. you knew before hand what the gig was! so WE should go in debt for the rest of our lives or declare bankruptcy because you decided to be a dr?!
    socialized FREE medical care for ALL
    one payer system

    January 5, 2015 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Name kerry

    The hardr you work, the more money you make. Doctors work extremely hard.

    February 24, 2015 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 25, 2015 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. wolfgangamoz

    Interesting comments from people who mostly sound as if they hate their profession and its pay, yet oddly stay in it.

    One question. Why do those complaining about their income, their work hours and conditions become doctors?

    One more. What do they care more about, the money or the patient?

    By the comments....what would most visitors to this site reading the comments be led to believe?

    March 20, 2015 at 03:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bryan

      They stay in it because of the satisfaction that comes from helping someone out of pain; that is priceless. Not everyone is in debt like the commenters here; these are extreme cases. Many doctors end up with minimal debt if they plan correctly. One of the big advantages of the MD is that it opens the doors to so many careers, too (bc u are now "qualified" for a variety of roles). MDs who are overworked could easily get a job in the industry working 40 hours a week if they so wished.

      Going into the profession, you should care equally about the pay and the patient. You should also learn to handle stress. I think some doctors are a little narrow-minded and they don't realize that there are many people who work 60-80 hours a week; its just that doctors probably whine the most about it for some reason.

      March 26, 2015 at 18:51 | Report abuse |
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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.