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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Highly Paid Medical Specialists: Beneficiaries of Protectionism

Highly Paid Medical Specialists: Beneficiaries of Protectionism

Monday, 20 January 2014 08:30

Actually this excellent piece only talks about the first part of the picture, the outlandish paychecks that many medical specialists receive. Most news outlets are too committed to protectionism to discuss the idea of subjecting our doctors to the same sort of international competition as autoworkers or textile workers.

Comments (7)Add Comment
Prospective,, not Piece-Rate, Reimbursement for Docs
written by R. Queisser, M.H.A., January 20, 2014 11:00
Physicians should be paid for how many patients are in their "panel" and not by piece-rate. The incentive then is to keep the population healthy (making less work for specialists) and not to grab every prospect and operate, whether the surgery is needed or not.

Once knew an ophthalmologist who "discovered" cataracts by putting drops in eyes, then shining a flashlight while patient looked at chart. Result: many patients with no Sx suddenly seemed to need cataract extractions. He got rich quick! And Hippocraties? He cried his eyes out.
written by PeonInChief, January 20, 2014 11:18
Frankly I don't think this problem would be solved by international competition. Autoworkers and textile workers mostly live and work in other countries, while doctors live and work here. True, we could send patients to other countries for treatment, but that would be impractical for treatments like the one described. (I had one of those cancers on my forehead and the entire treatment took less than 40 minutes from beginning to end.)

If we look at countries that control costs better than we do (are there any that don't?), we find that it's not international competition but government action, as in "we will pay this much for that, and not a penny more."
written by Last Mover, January 20, 2014 11:27

What more proof of structural unemployment is necessary? Every one of these specialists found a job didn't they.

Unemployed freeloaders take note. Get an education and training for a job opening waiting just for you.

When extortion prices are high enough, the forthcoming supply of economic predators is guaranteed to create its own demand.
written by urban legend, January 20, 2014 1:35
Why not advocate similar protection for workers wages rather than a race to the bottom for everyone. At least most doctors work for their high incomes. (Two people I want to be very well paid: my surgeon and the pilot.)
Response to Urban Legend
written by John Wright, January 20, 2014 2:03
Urban wrote: "Two people I want to be very well paid: my Surgeon and the pilot."

The pilot usually DOES have a very personal interest in arriving safely with you at your destination.

And pilots on small regional carriers are not well paid, and passengers arrive safely.

To some extent the surgeon also has to get the patient home safely for malpractice and reputation reasons.

So possibly high pay isn't required for either profession to get good results.
the real problem
written by Eric Hossner, January 20, 2014 4:53
Time for Yglesias to write another post bashing overpaid barbers.
Go Easy
written by Bart, January 25, 2014 5:41

Elisabeth Rosenthal's writing on health care costs should be required reading for all and not nit-picked.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.