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. cj

    This is the same basic misguided thinking people use when arguing teachers should earn more.

    You cant compare the pay scale of 3425 (total of NFL,NBA and MLB players if rosters are at max) elite athletes that generate billions in income for large corporations and more than half a MILLION doctors or 7.2mil (2009 census number) teachers.

    Rest assured if we only allowed the 3425 best doctors to practice medicine you could demand billions a year.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • birch please

      Teachers should be paid more so more competent individuals will be attracted towards one of the most important jobs for the future of our country.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • my

      If there were 3000 doctors, you could be sure that you would never see one.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • cj

      The average teacher in the US earns 42k a year for teaching alone, gets weekends national holidays and 2.5months a year off.

      again using 2009 census numbers...a little over 150m Americans earned taxable income. 100million of them earned less than 40k a year landing teachers in the top third income bracket. To paint it a little more clear...a teacher earns more than 2 out of every 3 people living in the town they teach in.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      Since the argument is misguided, could you provide a more guided argument for why teachers should be paid more? My wife is a teacher who makes less than half my income and I sometimes believe it would be better for her to just stay home.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • justsayin

      Before they ask for money, maybe they should stop abusing their staff. Physician behavior is at best like working for satan sometimes. They get away with the worst verbal and sometimes physical abuse.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • rochdoc

      This is basically what is wrong with the political rhetoric going on in USA. Why do you have to tie anything and everything to "money you are generating?" . There is a special value for special services which are provided by the brightest of mind. If you don't acknowledge that and compare the doctor to the guy running a "landscape company", and think that the doctor is not "generating' anything, just pray that you will never get sick or will get into a serious accident. You are brainwashed by corporates into this kind of thought, originally developed to bring down service organizations. You cannot put a price tag on all human services.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      Those summers are not paid vacations. They are very inconvenient because we are forced to vacation during peak holiday times. It is expensive and crowded. 12 years ago, we did a quick trip to London in August. I had to book it so that we would be back before mid-August. Before school starts, she and her co-workers prepare classrooms and plan out the school year...unpaid. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, the school building does need to have the AC on during non-classroom times.

      We use health insurance from my company. It costs less than the joke plans her town offers and covers more than any of them.

      Tuition reimbursement is a paltry $200.00. During tax time, I am deducting a bunch of unreimbursed expenses for school supplies she has purchased because the town won't buy them or won't provide enough of them.

      BTW, her town is upper middleclass.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Dont be dumb

      Teachers dont make that money tell they have at least 5 years under there belt, starting wages in some states are less then 25k A YEAR! Add in AT LEAST 30K in STUDENT LOANS and your not living high on the hog. Not to mention more experienced teachers are being passed up because schools cant afford to pay them. Learn what your talking about instead of regurgitating Glen Beck

      May 1, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      My wife is contracted for 180 days per year. I work about 257. Based on days worked compared to my income, she should make over $100K.

      BTW, she DEFINITELY does not work alone.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • rad

      the flaw in your argument is that in medicine, the payers (insurance companies), decide what will be paid to a provider, or at times they decide not to pay anything at all. i don't imagine that the nfl would be a billion dollar business if fans dictated how much to pay or not pay for tickets, jerseys, etc.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • LaLa

      @cj : The average teacher is also paid for ten months of the year, is expected to work evenings & weekends grading papers & tests and creating lesson plans, meet with parents on THEIR schedule, be faculty adviser for everything from intramural sports teams to specialty clubs. No, it's not in their contracts, but if they didn't you can bet they wouldn't be employed too long. No, they are not on call 24/7 (but neither are doctors), but they devote a significant portion of their personal time to their profession without compensation. At least doctors get compensated when they work overtime/holidays/weekends/etc.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  2. Married to a Hospitalist

    My wife and I earn the same amount of money. I am the director of engineering with a Master's degree and 11 years of experience. She is as old as me and just started her career. If you are to compare, the number of VPs, Directors and senior managers in large US companies. You will notice that they are far more people making more money than doctors in their level of jobs. Doctors dont become VPs. The highest go to is a Program Director (there are very few of those). Based on my wife's schedule, she easily works twice as hard as me (over 80 hr per weeks) In addition to her day job, she has in-house (ie at the hospital) night calls twice a week and she works 2 weekends a month (which includes a night call). The weekend shift alone is a 36 hr shift. If you factor her hourly rate, I used to make that money right out of school 10 years ago. Also she has only 3 weeks of vacation and NO PUBLIC HOLIDAYS since people don't chose when they fall sick.
    Considering you really have to be a top student to get into med school. She could have easily gone into virtually any other profession, started earlier and made a lot more money.
    People on this board don't really know what they are talking about. Comment are good but informed comments are even better.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John


      May 1, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • wow

      That's all well and good, and don't ttake this as undermining the effort either you or your wife exert in your respective fields but.....

      You participate in an instution put in place by someone before you. Whether a private or public business or service, they are not YOUR service. You contribute to someone else's service. If you wanted, you could explore providing your own service, in whatever form might seem appropriate for your potential business idea.

      But hating others for participating higher up in their respective service really is just envy. You are probably right, they probably DONT know what they are doing. But they are doing it, someone appointed them, and if the business is flourishing then they DO know what they are doing in a sense. And if not, the business will likely fail.

      You could always try to usurpe them and show them what they are not doing right. Or, you may realize its not as easy as you think.

      That's my opinion.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      Thank you

      May 1, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      I'm sorry, but didn't your wife choose to be a "hospitalist".

      May 1, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • vick

      Its interesting that you use the word "informed." Most people become doctors simply for the money they ASSUME they will make in the future. The universe of medicine has not radically changed recently – being on call, working late hours and having no holidays off is routine and frankly, to be expected. If someone chooses to go into a field for the wrong reasons without thinking about the reality of the situation, then buyer beware! Doctors make more than enough to live a very comfortable life – thats more than can be said for a lot of hard working people in this country.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • justsayin

      So she became a doctor thinking she was only going to work 8 hour days? She could of gone into sports medicine, dermatology, radiology, cosmetic plastic surgery. I work in healthcare, people dont just become a doctor and say "Hey im underpaid." They know exactly where they will be at, complaining after the fact is just, well.....

      May 1, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  3. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    forget the money, doctors are respected members of society. They help people and people look to them for help. They are cherished and appreciated. Despite what society or economy they live in, they will always be regarded highly. This is the true reward of being a doctor.

    to get financially compensated for helping people is the greatest job on the planet, especially when it's compensation over 100k a year. Look at homeless shelters and case workers, they maybe get paid 30k a year for helping people.

    maybe they should change the way doctors are trained, the way they have to take in enormous debts, as society benefits from its doctors in a variety of ways.

    i do have a problem with the medical field, not sure why costs keep going up or why simple procedures that use few resources other than a human cost so much. I also don't like how the medical industry pushes newer, more expensive medication when it's barely more effective or not even more effective than previous, cheaper medications.

    maybe some doctors can band together and create their own school, so they can charge a reasonable rate for newer students wanting to become doctors, take the profits and reinvest them back into the school, alumni for the win.

    there are plenty of solutions, no need to let the issue divide us : )

    May 1, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ron D

    As a pharmacist I can tell you most family practice doctors make even less than me.
    What is billed and what is paid is vastly different. A bill for $350 may only be paid at $25. Total. and the office expenses must come out of that.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. VladimirG

    Doctors, just boycott. You definitely do not make enough to pay of that loan and insurance liability. That will at least expose the problem. On the other hand, you should have calculated how much the loan costs before you took it... If you cannot do that, I doubt you can be a good doctor today. You should not be in the field.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doc

      You say just boycott but the laws are written as such that if a group of doctors get together and say, "we've had it, we aren't going to take the insurance companies low payments anymore", they are breaking the law and may be put in prison for doing so. I am a Chiropractor, I never expected to make as much as a medical doctor even though my college education cost me +80K. If I see 10 HMO patients in an hour, after my overhead I am making about 24 dollars an hour before taxes. I do have a bit of a higher overhead because I practice in Northern California. But seriously, 24 dollars an hour. I pay my office manager more than that. And personally I rather the bulk of the money go to the person that is taking care of me rather than some insurance company CEO who's incentive is NOT to help people but to make money for himself and the companies investors. Doesn't that just make sense?

      May 1, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  6. DD

    Doctors that take on the nobel task of being PCP are underpaid because 150,000 a year doesn't qualify as rich when you factor in the hours they put in no matter what part of the country we are talking about. However, to all of those doctors that decide to become a plastic surgeon or some other specialist and rake in the big bucks..more power to ya. It is what makes this country great. It's called choice. If you are so jealous of all that money...go become a doctor and stop being jealous. Personally I'll pass, human beings are gross and I'm happy someone is willing to do it.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. bonedoc

    Just some facts... all doctors complete four years of college and which for most leads to signifcant debt, we all then pay to go to medical school for four more years incurring even more debt, We all then due a minimum of 3 years of residency, some of us like myself go into surgical subspecialties which require 5-7 years of post medical school training. During residency fellowship we work around 80 hours per week and make around 50,000 a year. During that whole time interest is adding up on all the student loans. Next add in the cost of malpratice insurance, decreased medicare and insurance rates, along with the increasing amount of regulation in healthcare and still tell me your docotor is overpaid.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KL

      And due to wonderful tax laws, when in practice you make "too much" to deduct all of that interest on student loans, while most others with much less in loans write it all off.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
  8. RubberP

    My wife is a fellowship trained breast surgeon. She's also a general surgeon (although she doesn't do general surgery anymore) and has specialties in trauma, emergency medicine and intensive care. 17 years of education and training, ending with a student loan of $175,000, when I met her eleven years ago. It was more than that when she first started to practice.
    Now we're in California. The majority of her patients don't have insurance so my wife is often paid by MediCal. Medical generally pays between 20 to 30 cents on the dollar, of what my wife bills. She's received checks for less than $1, from them.
    Last year she made about $176,000 gross. She pays just about $50,000 for malpractice insurance leaving her with about $126,000, which she then pays 28% federal tax on, and about 9% state tax on. That leaves her about $75k in after tax dollars. She's self employed so there is no vacation pay, no pension benefits, no compensation if she's sick etc.. Except for the fact that she loves taking care of people and saving lives, when asked if she'd do it all again, her response is; "Are you crazy?"

    May 1, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kim

      She doesn't have to work in a practice that takes Medicare. She could choose to work in private practice that only takes insurance. My father was a urologist who did that. He still treated some people for free. But working with Medicare is a choice- a kind and generous one to be sure- but a choice anyway.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • JS

      Your wife should be applauded for working hard and helping people. Our country will be collectively screwed if too many smart people start deciding to work at Goldman instead of going to medical school because the finances don't work. I feel the same about doctor as I do my airplane pilot. I hope they are very well trained and paid so they can concentrate on what they are doing and not have they are going to pay there mortgage.

      Just ask someone who is hungry in India how it works out when smart people pursue money instead of the greater good. India has no Agro industry and but lots of starving people they can't feed. But smart Indians are coming to the US to work in IT. Why? Money!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Your wife is doing something seriously wrong then. I am a family medicine doctor working for the past 11 years for a major HMO in So Calif, "part-time" (2 afternoons off per week). There's no malpractice to pay or anything other business expenses really. The HMO takes care of it all. I show up, treat patients, and go home. No call. I don't bill anyone. I get to be a mom of 3, and an involved one at that. Last year I made $240K. No complaints from me. HMO is the way to go. I'd never give private practice 1/2 of a thought.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  9. TheBuckStopsHere

    Dave committed fraud. Dr. Petersen can still demand payment from the insurance company and let them sort out the mess with Dave. That's the argument for why doctors should earn more? Virtually every business or profession encounters issues with past due accounts at some point or another.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris Rew

      Yes.. Usually the doctor still bills the patient. Even if the medical insurance paid the patient – the doctor still needs to get paid and can still send a bill the patient. After all it is the doctors money.

      Keep in mind that with the rising cost of health care, people are no longer friendly or compassionate to the monetary situations of medical personnel.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      Not if he wasnt' a network provider. Out of network providers do not get paid by the insurance company. They collect from the patient.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  10. drinky

    Earn $42K per year with a Master's Degree and be held accountable to doofuses all day long and then get back to me about how you're underpaid.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. SpaceMan

    There are a lot of disgruntled people her, angry about doctor’s salaries. Rather than being envious, why don’t you get MD degrees, charge less than them and put them out of business? You could also charge as much as them and not be envious!!!!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. JS

    Doctors deserve to make as much money as they want to charge. If you don't like it, go somewhere else for your medical treatment. Too many people in this country have gotten used to getting medical care for free (or close to it). They have no skin in the game so they ask for ridiculous treatments and expect the insurance company to pay it. We have to get back to a model where people are responsible for least a portion of the costs. If we continue as is then the good doctors will stop taking insurance and requirement payment in advance! I would if I were in their shoes.

    As a disclaimer, my wife has a long term illness which requires ~$500/quarter in medical supplies. I pay a fortune for insurance and they still don't pay for it. I can waste my time complaining that I should get it for free because the big, rich company has more money than me. Or I can get off my ass and earn the money I need to pay for it. Pretty simple choice unless you are handicapped. Otherwise, time to get to work.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Kim

    My father was a doctor. We never went without. He did treat a lot of people for free. He did say he often felt like the paperwork would be the death of the profession (his father was a small town doctor that didn't have to do all the insurance paperwork). All that said, he lived a very comfortable life. He traveled a LOT, including multiple trips out of the country. He put me through college without blinking. I'm not feeling too bad for doctors in general. Do some have a hard time? Sure- particularly some of the higher stress jobs in the ER, but overall the problem here lies with the insurance system and the medical industrial complex that has forced doctors to charge too much for too little time after they have overbooked their day because they know they aren't going to get a fair shake from the insurance companies who are overcharging in the first place. Doctors deserve to make a good living, but comparing yourselves to the guys who have ripped us off from Wall Street and professional athletes who are grossly overpaid isn't a good call. Gee, I went to school for 8 years with 2 degrees, and I make less than 60k a year. We all can say we don't get what we deserve compared to other professions. Suck it up. You're doing better than the vast majority of the country right now, and doctors are far more recession proof than a lot of professions.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr J

      Too bad he didn't teach you what a paragraph is. TLDR.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • JS

      If you went to school for 8 years and got 2 degrees, then your choice of profession is what is driving your income, not your education. I have the same level of education and make over $400k in the IT industry.

      As for professional athletes: I completely agree they are overpaid but it is all economics. Don't pay for cable, satelite or any other product which supports the games. Everyone does that and no more multi million dollar contracts for basketball players. You should read up on the economic concept of marginal revenue, it is what determines the value of the player's contracts. Based on it, the pay the players earn is justifiable.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    Don't like the pay....get a different job then???....no one forced you to pay that much for education either

    May 1, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anon

      sadly without them willingly paying that much for education you would die at half the age

      May 1, 2012 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
  15. jhurts

    its all about the money? I don't think so I have seen dr. all my life and never did I feel that I was being taken advantage of just because I had to wait say mabe 30 or 45 min to get to see my dr. they are extreemly busy professionals and are always concerned about your health, very professional people and I would be proud to consider anyone of them as a friend of mine. so I think they are extreamly under paid for what they know and what they can do for all of our healths,
    mabe we all should be more concerned about the hugh profits the insurance companys make each year at our drs. expence , and when they feel like the profits are not enough well guess what they up our premiums and what choice do we have but to pay. and whats better yet we have to ask there permissiom first before our drs. can treat our conditions .

    May 1, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. CatastropheCathy

    You compare a doctor's income to a professional athlete? Professional athletes IMHO are well over paid but that is because they bring in money for the franchise owner. If you ever go to a game, buy a jersy or buy heavily endorsed products you are supporting thier high income. Personally I chose not to.

    As for doctors I don't think they are overpaid and Dave should be sued (more money for lawyers). But I do think they get a lot of perks like free dinners from drug reps which makes it hard for them to be neutral and probably over prescribe the drugs. Personally I feel healthier by avoiding doctors as much as possible.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. OHVolsfan23

    First of all, there are a lot of people who are asked 'to work for free'. It's called being on SALARY. They're always asked to work until the work is done, regardless of how long it takes.

    The problem with doctor's salary is that it's sometimes unevenly set among specialties. The dr who saves the life of a burn victim? Yes, they should be paid more money. The dr who did Kate Gosslin's tummy tuck? No, they don't need a raise in salary.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. SmokeScreen

    A large part of this problem is that the cost of higher education in this country is completely out of control. There's no justification for an education leaving someone $200,000 in debt. Schools are charging ridiculous numbers for tuition. It's insane, really.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Dr. R

    First, if Dr. sues Dave, Dave countersues because the left leg had a scar. And the Malpractice will settle for $35K just to keep it out of court, whether there's a case or not!

    Currently, a private medical practice, at 65% overhead, usually generated a certain amount per visit. Programs like Medicaid don't even cover half of the first 65% needed to keep the lights on !!! and what is it worth to you to feel confident that your kid will actually be OK after the doctor treats him? That your mother won't die because the doctor caught the problem in time?

    Teachers, nurses, yes, horribly underpaid. And underappreciated.

    An old mentor asked me once what I needed to do to be sure I wasn't sued for Malpractice. After a very long list, he tore it up and said, "There's NOTHING you can do to prevent malpractice suits. I saw an orthopedic surgeon treat an ankle sprain, and get sued because the patient ruptured a brain aneurysm three months later, and the claim was that the ortho didn't pick it up at the visit".

    When I started in medicine 30 yrs ago, it was the age of "doctor is close to god!" . Now it's "doctor is a money-grubbing lackey of the drug company who is trying to kill my children with vaccines, or turn them Autistic!"

    I usually advise eager college students to stay away from medicine. It's not as much fun as it should be!

    from an aging Family Doctor....

    May 1, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      that's why doctors are respected and lawyers are hated : )

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

      I was recently sued because my name was on the letterhead of a lab report (the lab result wasn't even from my lab). My malpractice lawyer immediately moved for a summary dismissal of me from the case. After a few months, this was granted, but I had to agree not to countersue for legal costs. So, I shelled out about $3000 to be dismissed from a case I had never even been involved in.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  20. Bart1975

    What athletes make compared to doctors , teachers, etc has been beat to death already. If a network wants to buy and broadcast your day to day exams or surgeries and pay you millions of dollars and advertise during said show, by all means take it! Until then, realize this the career path you have chosen and be assured you will have job security for life and realize if you wanted more money before you majored in medicine instead of business or marketing in college.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Pymoladdict

    To johnmd:
    "Plus when you guys get out you work 9months for a six figure salary, get your mandatory vactation, and of course your fat pensions after 20 years of work....cry me a river for the phd's!"
    Typical for an MD, strong opinion with no precise knowledge... There is no such thing as "getting out" of postdoc. What you seem to be referring to, is a position of a tenure-track faculty member, which is available for any given postdoc as position of a clinical professor to any given MD. Most of the PhDs never get to be faculty members. Yes, some PI's get a nine-month appointment, but most (outside Rockefeller and Yale), don't hit 6 figures until they are promoted to a full professor – add another 10 years on average. Fat pensions? Again, some faculty members retire with a good pension. But I see guys around me who are in their 50's, still postdocs – sorry, senior research scientists, who are at work 10 to 10, work weekends, take a week vacation a year, all that for cool 60K. That living in NYC. 80 hrs/week? How long did that last, buddy? What about working that much for most of the graduate school and postdoc? When was the last time you started your day with Pubmed and read 3-4 papers a day? I met maybe a couple of doctors who read anything except drugs ads since they got their degrees. Anyway, you are talking about something you have no idea (BTW, there is no such thing as a postdoctoral degree, not in US at any rate). Maybe I should cry you a brain...

    May 1, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. D. Teacher

    1. Teachers work more hours then 40 per week, they do not get over time pay, and the average teacher spends 1000.00 a year of their money on their students.
    2. They have to continue their education, or face loss of certification. The cost for this education is often out of pocket.
    3. We are under constant scrutiny and blamed for everything, that when really looked at objectively is not within the teachers direct control.
    4. We too graduate with student loans.
    5. Starting level salaries average nation wide 30+ -very low...look at the poverty line.
    So, it is hard for me to feel sorry for doctors and their money problems. I think a lot of young people, that are very smart go into medicine to be rich or to have a very nice life style. They say it is to help people in need and it maybe to some extent. Teachers on the other hand I think still know they won't get rich but their real mission is to help people.
    The time off is nice, but most work during the summer, and if you look up the stats, that is also true.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Luke Atmydick

      Yea but the standards to be a teacher just aren't that high. I know a lot of numbskull teachers.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      Doctors also have to continue their education. Its called CME. It can cost over $800 to attend a conference in order to get CME credits. If so many are not completed within a specific period of time then board certification can be lost.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • D. Teacher

      The standards you talk about depend on the state. In some states they are very high standards. Yet, in a life time it would surprise me if you did not meet one numbskull teacher, one numbskull doctor, lawyer, electrician-get my point?
      Furthermore, I do not know how "high" you think the standards should be;but I guarantee, if you raised teachers standards to what you think was correct, you would not want pay the salary of those teachers either. The profession is socially under valued. The majority of teachers are hard working dedicated people who still think what they do is important for society. Just the fact you could write a comment on this form is owed to one of your teachers.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • latuya

      Plus teachers get a ton of vacation. And most of them just keep regurgitating the same stuff everyday not much critical thinking going on.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • Codpiece Jim

      Oh stop it. Teachers are the most self-serving individuals out there. You have a strong union, 9-3 hours, no late nights, no acute stresses, advancement in salary based only on how long you've been there, benefits, 3 months of vacation. You're basically high-paid babysitters.

      With the state of the nation's educational system, and the fact that kids can't even spell or add correctly, we should fire all the teachers. Every single last one of them.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • Codpiece Jim

      And all the people I knew who went into teaching did it because the job is easy, the standards for teacher's college are low, and they didn't really have any greater aspirations than that. How motivating.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  23. Luke Atmydick

    Doctors are underpaid, in comparison to the amount of schooling, testing, knowledge and studying required. But they are highly respected in society and have relatively good job security. My sister is a physician and she never gets a ticket once the officer finds out she is a doctor. She is almost considered a civil servant on the top rung of the ladder.

    Also, I thought doctors knew going in that they were not going to be paid millions.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. hypatia

    *squeak squeak* world's smallest violin...

    May 1, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Doctor

    I'm a physician and if you told me that I was overpaid- I would not disagree with you.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doctor

      My base income is 220K, with bonuses and overtime I made 290K. I graduated med school (2001) with approx 100K in loans, but with a large salary it was not a burden, I have paid off about 80K of my loans. I work hard but many people do. I enjoy my job, i get paid to do what I like. I do not feel that I am underpaid, and if you were to say I am overpaid I wouldn't disagree.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • Doctor

      In addition, my job comes with many benefits that most people do not have: excellent health care, 401K, additional salary deferral options, interest free housing loan etc. I don't agree with the writer of the article, a majority of physicians are doing just fine– they just may not realize it.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • whatthe

      Here is someone you can respect.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • MK

      Thank you for being reasonable.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
  26. Shawn L

    I love how they use an "average" salary that includes first year people, and the lowest paying fields in medicine.

    How much do specialists earn? Didn't mention that?

    The mean annual salary of a MD specialist is $175,011 in the US, and $272,000 for surgeons

    Anesthesiology 331,000 to $423,507
    Dermatology 313,100 to $480,088
    Emergency medicine 239,000 to $316,296

    The lowest... Pediatrics 160,111 to $228,750

    So, a solid six figure salary, to a quarter a million a year for the lowest paying doctor. That's not under paid.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. moman

    Well as a physician in Michigan, they wanted to pass a law that would tax every physician for medicaid patients. What a joke, luckily it didn't pass. Physicians are already having a hard time writing off payments for people who can't pay, and then they wanted to take our hard earned money for medicaid patients in which >40-50% of them smoke more than 1 pack per day. The problem with the united states is no one is responsible for their own health. They just smoke, get fat, and do what they want. If you think physicians are getting paid too much for what they do, then don't go see one!

    May 1, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Steve

    Compensation is what it is....generally based on supply and demand. There are doctors who make 50k and there are doctors who make $1 million+... if the money is important to you...make choices that will take you there...some doctors show up for work and put in the time (this is a job mindset) and some build a business (entrepreneur mindset)....but this is no different than any other profession....in the long term, your personal priorities will drive your income...why would you want to think otherwise?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. MightyMoo

    Isn't what Dave did insurance fraud? To me that just says the doctor should have gotten paid what Dave spent. I'm not saying that doctors and nurses shouldn't be paid good. Hell they put up with all kinds of crap. Still that was a bad example I think.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. jordan

    Lawyers don't make 130k out of the gate, that number is totally misleading. Doctors are also pretty much always going to find a job, not so with other professions. and they get paid for residency, paid at a good level too!

    Finally, doctors sometimes are just factory physician who squeeze you in for 15 mins and make a wrong diagnosis that webMD could easily have done correctly. I think we should stop putting them on such a high horse, soldiers save lives, and they risk theirs at the same time, as do firefighters and police, but yet they aren't all getting rich.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. John

    People get mad because they think medical school is something they could do... When in reality many would get eaten alive in the first semester let alone get in.... Plus 12+ years of school and residency..... Doctors aren't paid nearly nearly enough for what they do... A complete rookie player in the nba gets paid 500k + nurses can make 150k+ ..

    May 1, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wow

      uh by your comparison, A LOT of people who are not entertainment figures should make entertainment-type money. I'm sure you can understand hiow that makes no sense...
      Actually, I'm not sure you won't understand how it makes no sense..... sad

      May 1, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • KG

      I find it interesting that in our free-market economy we are sending the message as consumers that we appreciate entertainment more than we do our medical care. Maybe if we would get our priorities straight people like teachers and others who serve us could make better wages. I've honestly never been able to justify the cost of going to a professional sporting event with my family. One night would cost a month's worth of groceries. Until Americans start valuing things more accurately, we will always have such skewed salaries.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
  32. Guess

    Name one person who is not a knee-jerking right winger who doesn't think that sports players are overpaid?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • whatthe

      I am a flaming liberal and I don't think sportsmen are overpaid. Their income is decided by free market (or as close you can get to free market in reality). Dotors, lawyers, CEOs and executives, on the other hand, are not paid by free market. There is collusion and old boys clubs to prevent free market.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • latuya

      Athletes generate money for the franchise, sports teams are worth hundreds of millions of dollars because of the value added by the players. Over 100 million people watch the superbowl last year, a commercial spot for the superbowl costs millions of dollars for a few seconds because people want to watch these athletes. While some athletes are definetly overpaid, the majority deserve what they get. If you are generating milliions for your team shouldn't you also make millions?

      May 1, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
  33. Mike

    I understand doctors work long hours. So do I, on average 50-55 a week. Often weekends. I'm on salary so no overtime. I wonder about how to compensated when I wait 25, 30, 25 minutes past my appointment is supposed to start again and again because the office has booked too many patients.

    In regards to Dave cashing the check, why didn't the doctor refer this back to his insurance company to press charges? Sounds like theft to me.

    Lastly "answer our calls at all hours". Wow, I would love to have your circle of doctors. More often than not, I can't get a return phone call.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Mitzy

    Like colleges, 90% of hospitals' overhead is salaries. Like college education, the cost of medical care has outpaced inflation by 600% over the last two decades. Ancillary staff salaries have barely kept pace with inflation. The only logical conclusion is that the high cost of college and medical care is due to one thing: professional salaries. Doctors and professors have been extorting obscenely higher salaries far more than inflation would warrant, just like corporate CEOs,to whom they compare themselves.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Marine5484

    I know the hours that doctors put in are long to say the least and they have to deal with all sorts of.....lets call them yahoos but, such a large percentage of them saying they are underpaid is a little out there not that many doctors are working at the city hospital in an area where they have to deal with such a huge volume everyday . Police officers, fire fighters, EMT's are underpaid for the job that they preform. And I'm sure that there are some doctors out there that are underpaid but not 49 and 54 percent of them.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. wow

    An insurance company would NOT send a check cashable to the policy holder if it was not intended for the policy holder. They would sent it direct to the Dr. and if not they would not make the check cashable to a non intended recipient. I can't evne believe this BS is on here, its a flat out lie,

    May 1, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Ricky P

    I've never once felt that doctors themselves are over paid. They have a wealth of knowledge, and have spent many years in school where they were more than likely drowning in debt by the time they even started their career, like this article points out. I believe that people confuse the amount of money they are paying for health care and the amount the doctor is actually bringing home. The health care industry in general is an over priced and under regulated system. When I look at my EOB after I've been treated for something, the highest payout on there is never the doctor, it's more than likely supplies for a 5 minute procedure, or access to a machine that has been long since paid for by the revenue it generates. Really, how much could a bag of saline solution really cost to manufacture? I imagine a lot less than the hundreds of dollars that the office has to charge us to recoup the cost from the supply company.

    Doctors not only deserve the salaries that they make, but most probably deserve a lot more for the impact they have on society. If only we could divert some of the income away from pharmaceutical corporations to doctors.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Dr J

    How many hours a week a doctor works is irrelevant. I know contractors who work 80 hours a week doing masonry work. Could a lift 100 lbs of bricks over their heads on a ladder 60 feet in the air 12 hours a day? No. Didn't think so. Newsflash, Einsteins. The internet is alive and well. I can troubleshoot every single ailment out there using google.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • haha

      Good luck buddy. Tell me how that turns out for you

      May 1, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      As an informed patient you should google your ailments. But don't think that you suddenly have the education of a doctor by doing so. If you think the internet makes you so capable go take a look at some of the articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you can fully comprehend them then apparently you need to go take the MCAT.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
  39. ridiculous

    is this a joke? not paid enough? millions lose their livelihood and these bafoons have the nerve to complain about not making enough. If anything , they are all overpaid.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • relmfoxdale

      Ah, this old chestnut...people who earn good money can't complain when it's not good enough because there are poor people in the world? I'd take that further and argue that America's middle and lower classes can't complain, either, because there are *tons* of people out there who are literally starving to death and dying from easily preventable infectious diseases. I mean, sure, you may only make minimum wage and have to eat government cheese, but you have a roof over your head. You have cheese. You have free schools and electric lights and running water. Some people barely have any water at all, never mind schools for their kids. This is such a weak argument.

      I'm all for the OWS/99% thing, but I'm in favor of bringing the folks below *up*, not bringing the people at the top *down*. I don't care how much a CEO is paid–$1 million or $1 billion. That's fine with me. What I take issue with is how the lowest on the totem pole are faring instead. In other words, don't take the rich people's money away. Just make sure the poorer people get more. Of course, it'd probably work out that the rich would get less, in the end, but that's not the goal.

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

      Bafoons? Jealous Much? The issue here isn't how much they make, all doctors are making much less than they used to. The issue here is that we are ALL making less and some don't even have jobs due to the transference of wealth to the top .5 percent. We should all be upset at what has happened in this country. We have been sold out by our politicians and our supreme court to big business and short of a revolution I don't see it ever changing.

      May 2, 2012 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
  40. Peter Hludzenski

    We pay a sports star how much? Dr.s who hold our lives in their hands could never be over paid. The system is backwards. Slam dunking a basketball or catching a pass etc. could never have the impact of successful open heart surgery. We owe them or lives.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Steve

    ...I dont care about celebrities or professional athletes....but I understand why they are paid that way....it is purely supply and demand....and the economics is good business. You guys should gain a better understanding of business before you become so loyal to beliefs about something you have such a minimal understanding.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. relmfoxdale

    Most doctors are underpaid. They have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to pay off. They miss out on at least a decade of key earning years–remember, they don't start "working" until they're in their 30s. So their peers have had time to earn salaries, get raises and promotions, and sock some of that away for retirement. Doctors miss a lot there. On top of that, they work long hours, under a lot of pressure. Some of them (depending on their specialty) don't get much "free time" because they're on call so much. They sacrifice a lot. In countries where doctors earn notably less, their working conditions are usually better (in China, they can only work 35 hours a week by law) and their education is paid for. Believe it or not, many doctors are actually *struggling*, at least compared with their college-educated peers. Malpractice insurance and poor reimbursement rates are hurting them. Some specialties earn killer money, no question, but not everyone can or should do that work.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Dr. R

    Also, remember, you free marketeers, that when insurance was brought into the mix, a lot of the main aspects of a free market economy go out the window. There's little choice for the consumer, and the service provider is restricted in how he or she can practice. I can tell you that I would be able to decrease my gross receipts substantially if I wasn't practicing with one eye over my shoulder to make sure I didn't miss something. I am not allowed to make even one tiny mistake. Is it like that in many other disciplines?
    Which engineer makes his decisions based on liability to law suits? Or bankers, or lawyers, or teachers?

    Did I really need that CT scan, or MRI or expensive test? Probably not, but I'm not going to avoid it if it will help me with potential litigation. More lawyers can quote chapter and verse from their favorite obstetrics book, but none can deliver babies. The jury doesn't care what gets done, it's what the experts expect!

    May 1, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fields

      Oh, please. If you don't want to get sued, don't be negligent. No lawyer can sue a doctor unless another doctor says he screwed up.

      The threat of litigation is totally overblown. Blaming lawyers is the AMA's excuse for its own incompetence in standing up for a more reasonable system of compensation.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  44. Dan

    $5,000+ for an MRI
    $400 for an initial office visit that lasts 30 minutes
    $10 for one asprin

    COME ON!

    I'm fairly certain I'll never meet an NBA player where he'll charge me that much for his autograph and five minutes of his time. Same with NFL player and the other professions mentioned. A lawyer, yep $400 an hour, sure.

    I don't see how doctors can expect the regular guy to pay $400 for an initial office visit when most people don't earn that in a week. And you know that they charge that much because of the blood sucking insurance companies.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • medschoolkid

      An MRI machine costs $1,000,000+. That initial office visit has to cover the doctor's salary (which a good chunk of goes to student loans), the salaries of nurses and support staff, the cost of the building, and the cost of malpractice insurance. Plus the cost of all those people who get treated then don't pay their bills. Its not nearly as simple as you might think.

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

      You're supposed to pay 8k a year for insurance so you only need to pay half of the $5o they will charge the insurance company for that '$400' visit.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
  45. Fields

    If doctors wanted to be treated like professionals, and not employees of the government and the insurance companies, the AMA should have objected the ubiquity of third-party payers sooner. Now that 60% of health care costs are paid by Medicare, doctors are going to have to work for whatever the government tells them they're going to work for. End of story.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Scott

    "Just for putting a ball in a hoop" makes it sound like anyone can do it; you're trivializing the job of a professional athlete. Like their years and years of practice don't compare to the years and years a doctor must study. Each job has its pros and cons. There are lots of thankless jobs – it doesn't surprise me that some drunk who fell off a roof didn't thank you. Expecting social grace from a moron is pretty silly. What about lawyers? I've worked with them for over 20 years and many are just MISERABLE. They get paid decently after just 3 years of college but don't realize all they are doing is trying to take money from people and take their cut. There's a real HONOR in being someone who heals or teaches another person (teachers are largely miserable AND underpaid), but you have to do what you love, not what will make you the most money because otherwise you will be unhappy and waste your life's work.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Phil Johnson

    I hope the doctor sued that dead-beat to get his money.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. jayhawk

    A couple of corrections and clarifications.
    First, doctors are not the only professionals sometimes required to work for free. Attornies aften do pro bono work, and often those court-appointed to cases are reimbursed less than their actual office expenses.
    Second, many other professions also have to attend long periods of education, including college and graduate schools. The undergraduate college bills for physicians are no higher than those for literature majors, and their graduate school degrees guarantee a larger income than do those of English Ph.Ds.
    Third, others have mentioned, correctly, that you can't compare doctors salaries to NBA players, just like you can't compare teachers to doctors. Supply and demand.
    Finally, no one is force to become a doctor. If money was the only consideration, then sure, they could have gotten an MBA and become an investment banker. But being a physician is pretty much recession proof, and comes with huge psychic advantages; do you really think the owner of the widget company gets as much job satisfaction as the pediatrician?
    If doctors were not making a living wage, then I could understand the complaints. However, they are still doing better than 98% of the people in the country, and good, competent doctors can always find rewarding work, both emotionally and financially. No tears shed here.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • medschoolkid

      Are you $200,000 in debt from grad school getting a PhD in English? And of course you won't make as much as a doctor because your skills are far less valuable to the general public. And sure medicine is a very rewarding career but it is also one of the most stressful and emotionally taxing.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  49. Adam

    Sounds more like a problem with the cost of education than a problem with a doctor's salary.

    And why would an insurance company send the patient a check which is to be forwarded to a doctor? And how was the patient able to cash the check? That's a serious lapse in judgement on the insurance companies fault.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KG

      Well said! Compensation for those seeking higher education is not keeping up with the cost to obtain it.

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

      Its a typical practice when car or homeowner's insurance pays for part of the bill.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • MrApplesauce

      I just had a couple visits to the dentist and it was surprising to me, but the insurance company sent checks to me for the exact costs being charged by the dentist, and then I had to play the dentist.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Even so, I'm sure that Dr. Peterson is well within his rights to sue Dave for his $3200. Poor Dr. Peterson getting pushed over by an insurance company...like the rest of the country doesn't have to deal with the same issue.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      Yes Dr. Peterson could have sued. But I bet Dave would have no issue in filing for bankruptcy since he apparently has no regard for his credit. Most of the unpaid medical bills are from people who get billed and sent to collections but will never pay for the services.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Do you think that sort of thing doesn't happen to a business outside the medical industry? Deadbeats are not unique to that industry. If Dr. Peterson doesn't want to deal with issues like this then perhaps he should leave his private practice and work on staff for a hospital.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
  50. KG

    My experience with most doctors is that they are kind and caring. They are willing to help their patients regardless of the patient's ability to pay. I am not saying this applies to ALL doctors but they have applied to the majority of them I have come into contact with over the years. It is interesting that another person pointed out that doctors are often having to sell to hospitals. If you ask me, the problem with health care can be traced to the hospital, insurance, litigation trinity. In an economy where no one was building – hospitals had plenty of money to spend. Those same hospitals are ruthless in their collection efforts. They represent big businesses who can afford to go after the debt. This is not likely the case for the average doctor in private practice unless they have a big corporation like the hospital backing them up. I don't like Obama's healthcare plan but I do agree that there is a problem with the healthcare system in America and people are placing the blame on the wrong shoulders.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
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