Why Aren't They Talking About Immigrant Doctors?

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013 06:09

The NYT had an article that focused on efforts to get more immigrants with skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This effort would have the effect of lowering the wages of workers in these fields, thereby saving companies money. However the piece does not mention immigrant doctors, the area where the country could most obviously benefit from increased immigration.

Pay for doctors in the United States averages more than $250,000 a year, roughly twice the pay of physicians in Europe. If immigration could bring the pay of U.S. doctors down by an average of $100,000 it would save the country close to $100 billion annually on its health care bill and lead to hundreds of thousands of new jobs in other areas. It is striking that the media almost never note this fact in the context of its discussion of immigration.

This NYT piece was also striking in its discussion of the immigration of STEM workers since it did not include the views of anyone who represents workers in these fields. One of the central issues raised by workers is whether they will be able to have free mobility when they come into the country or whether they will be tied to specific employers. The current H1-B system ties workers to specific employers, which denies them the bargaining power they would have if they could move between employers. It is remarkable that this issue was not even raised in this piece.