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.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  3 comments for “Easy Scapegoats

  1. DrHockey
    April 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Doug, your comment that the AMA represents about 20% of us is not fully accurate. This 2011 article reports that only about 15% of practicing physicians are AMA members:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153537/

  2. otterwoman
    April 7, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Can we somehow apply the veterinarian medical model to ourselves? My pets get great health care which I pay completely out of pocket and can afford. I wish I could go to the vet myself.

    • Dr Phil
      April 8, 2013 at 7:16 am

      Yeah but we are allowed to Euthanise our pets when they are suffering (thats where most of the health care costs come in – heroic efforts to save lives)

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