Easy Scapegoats

Doctors are easy scapegoats to blame a lot of the problems in the healthcare on.   Many of the headlines are slanted to look like physicians “miss this” or doctors “not doing that”.   Our pay is always brought up, too.   It is conveniently forgotten that we lose our youth and a decade of earning power to our training.  We are also hundreds of thousands in debt from schooling before we even start.   What people don’t know is that we have no cohesive group that can defend us agains the onslaught.  The AMA represents 20% of us and are totally enable to nut up…ever.   Anyway, here are some highlights from a decent article defending us against the idiots who blame the rising healthcare costs on our salaries or fees:

  • Some critics have suggested that physicians’ incomes and the fact that physicians direct most healthcare spending (80 percent is a frequently used number) are the real culprits in soaring healthcare costs. Yet despite this, physicians are not necessarily the principal beneficiaries of healthcare spending. The bulk of medical procedure payments go to hospitals and device manufactures.  
  • Moreover, doctors’ net take-home pay amounts to only about 10 percent of overall healthcare spending. 
  • A technical review panel convened to advise CMS on future healthcare costs trends concluded that about half of real health expenditure growth is attributable to medical technology.
  • Physicians are continually frustrated as they see increasing administrative regulations as significant burdens that take away from patient care, and they are deeply pessimistic as they struggle to sustain their practices. 
  • Hospital costs during 2010 in the U.S. constituted $814 billion or 31.4 percent of all healthcare expenditures. Furthermore, the cost of care will only continue to rise as we shift into a consolidated healthcare system and programs like Medicare allow higher payments for services performed in hospitals as opposed to independent private practices.
  • Finally, another vital factor to consider is that of life style and chronic conditions. Chronic diseases are the most common and costly of all health problems, but they are also the most preventable. According to the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, our common, health-damaging but modifiable behaviors – tobacco use, insufficient physical activity, poor eating habits, and excessive alcohol use –are responsible for much of the illness, disability and premature death related to chronic disease. And people with three or more chronic disease conditions generally fall into the costliest one percent of patients who account for 20 percent of all healthcare spending in the U.S.
  • Physicians have been a target of blame for many years, but the facts about what drives healthcare costs indicate otherwise.

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