Overheard on CNN.com: Broke doctors, rich doctors? Behind the stethoscope
Some medical practices are struggling to fund payrolls in this difficult economic climate. Readers shared their explanations.
January 5th, 2012
07:51 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Broke doctors, rich doctors? Behind the stethoscope

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

We've seen quite a bit of reaction to a CNNMoney story on doctors going broke due to reasons including insurance changes, the economy and business acumen. Commenters claiming to be doctors and medical staffers (and their family, too) wrote in to share why people should appreciate their circumstances. Many consumers also responded with their own thoughts.

Doctors going broke

The following comments were selected to show perspectives from beyond the sea-foam-green curtain.

Higher costs, sicker patients

One commenter cited many external factors that are creating financial stress for doctors.

JarheadTribe: "Two big problems: There are huge advancements in medicine every year, with understandably huge costs associated with them. The companies that make these advancements only do so because they hope to profit from them. No profit = no research = no advancement in medicines or technology. But, unlike any other industry in the U.S. (or even the world), everyone expects to get everything in medicine regardless of their ability to afford it. Can't walk into a BMW dealership and ask for the 2012 750Li if you don't have the money. But you can certainly come into the hospital with a massive lung cancer wrapped around your aorta and expect to be admitted to the ICU, see the hospitalist, the intensivist, the cardiologist, the oncologist, the social worker, the cardiothoracic surgeon, the vascular surgeon, receive large amounts of pain medicines, food, breathing treatments, BP meds, cardiac meds, numerous CT scans, angiograms, echocardiograms, duplex, push for surgery, radiation and long courses of the latest four-drug combination of chemotherapy, months of post-operative care, rehab, meds, food, follow-up doctor visits, wound care, etc. etc. etc. All of this, even if you have never worked a day in your life or paid a penny into the system. And guess what? We can't deny you any of this simply because you don't have the means to pay for it. You can't even get a cup of coffee at a restaurant if you don't have the means to pay for it!

"Second problem: People are living much longer than they ever have before. I see 90-year-old skeletons brought into the hospital for the 10th time in two months, with the family asking for everything to be done to keep 'grandpa' alive, even though he hasn't been able to talk, eat, drink, pee, poop, see by himself for months. He lies in bed and moans all day long, doesn't recognize anyone because of advanced dementia, has a tube for feeding, wears a diaper, has massive skin breakdown etc. etc. etc. Again, nowhere else are you expected to continue providing very, very expensive care even in absolutely futile cases when people cannot afford to pay for it. In the U.S., it is expected. None of this care is free, nor will it ever be. Someone is going to have to pay for it. We don't have endless resources or money."

A well-deserved life

One commenter said they were proud to be a doctor and defended their compensation.

emergentmd: "Doctors still make a lot of money. We worked hard for it. We deserve to drive nice cars, live in nice homes, take big vacations. I live in a million-dollar home I built, have a BMW, put my kids in private school. I worked hard for this, I spent countless time training, sacrificing my best years of my life. I now work 30 hours a week, have a salary in the top 1/2%. I get to spend time with my kids, take them out to eat, spoil my nieces/nephews. Thats right. I do not apologize for my life because I worked hard to get here. There's a lot of jealousy in this thread. I am sorry that most on here did not choose to spend time alone studying and working 120 hours a week in residency. You chose to drop out of high school or major in English.

"I graduated with an engineering degree, and was offered $70,000 out of college. I chose to go back to school/residency for another eight years, making very little. By my calculations, eight years x 70,000 is $560,000. So I gave up over half a million dollars, and eight years of my 20s. So yes. I deserve to live the easy, happy, upper-class life. I deserve my million-dollar home, my kids deserve their $15,000 private day care, I deserve two new BMWs in my garage, my wife deserves to stay home and raise our kids. I am not shy about this. I traded the best years of my life so my family would not have to struggle. No apologies here."

Long hours and reimbursement woes

Many doctors noted the long hours and years spent in training, as well as difficulties getting reimbursed by insurance companies. Several people complained that Medicare was undercompensating doctors for treatment.

kcool: "Where to even begin to address the idiotic statements made by people who don’t know what a doctor endures and the stereotypes that persist. My wife is a primary care physician. She has only been practicing for 2.5 years post-residency. She does not bring home six figures like some of you think. Some people are posting comments indicating we have club memberships, drive expensive cars, etc. How about a 6-year-old Accord? Expensive? I am currently unemployed and we’ve had to refinance our house to make the mortgage payments. Million+ dollar home? Not hardly. About a quarter of that. I’ve been on the unemployment line since April. I get interviews but no offers. We lost a significant portion of our income when I lost my job. We’ve burned through savings just paying the bills – now we are dipping into our 401k. We are definitely in the 99%!

"Some people are comparing a vet to a doctor. Not even close. Yes, they both have years of education under their belt, have to do continuing education to stay licensed, and have insurance and business overhead to pay for. Vets don’t have the market regulation imposed by insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid. I was talking to a chiropractor friend who gets reimbursed by the state of Minnesota for Medicare/Medicaid patient visits. His reimbursement – $1.56. Time in the room – 10 minutes. That’s $9.36 per hour to cover rent, utilities, insurance, equipment, student loans, staff paychecks, and somewhere in there he’d like to take some pay home as well. I know private physicians who don’t take insurance. They are cash-only and are much happier. Their patients are much happier, too. Nobody has to deal with insurance. His per-visit price is lower than my wife can charge because of the insurance billing overhead. Her practice has at least three people who do nothing but file insurance claims – three more salaries to come out of the low reimbursement rates from insurance. Oh, and eight-hour days/five days a week. What a joke! She works minimum 10-hour days (five days a week) and if she’s on call that’s a 24-hour shift (once per week plus a day every third weekend). She doesn’t get overtime pay for putting in extra hours. Why so many hours? That many sick people? In some cases, yes. In other cases, she has to sit around waiting on patients who arrive late, expect to be seen immediately when they do arrive and bring every ailment they can think of crammed into one visit. A 15-minute slot, pushed back because they were late, then extended to 30-45 minutes because they cram too much into one visit pushes everyone else back. That’s why you get to wait in the waiting room for long periods past your appointment time. Not because the doctor is screwing around – because patients don’t come on time and cram too much into one visit. Oh, and stacking two or three deep on a schedule? People make an appointment and don’t show! So, they are supposed to just sit around and do nothing? Fifty percent of her appointments are no-shows.

"My wife is on salary, so those weeks where she is working 70 hours a week isn’t worth it. She has more medical school loans than most houses cost in the U.S. – and it’s on a 10-year note, not 30. She has insurance that costs more than someone on minimum wage earns per month. She isn’t bringing home six figures, but she is the gatekeeper to the system. As primary care physician – and those are becoming a rare breed – under Obamacare, she is the entry point for patients to see a specialist. Without her, you get nowhere. Medical school graduates aren’t going into primary care because they can’t afford to. So, when all you who are whining about not having access to health care, remember this – there is a difference between access to health care and availability of health care."

No sympathy

We heard from a few readers who said they had worked with doctors and felt that at least some of the "rich doctor" stereotypes are true. The following poster said in another comment that they are a CEO.

ospreyisland: "Having worked in the medical profession for over 40 years, I can say I have absolutely no sympathy for physicians. The vast majority of those that are in a precarious financial situation is due to financial ineptitude. For years they have taken kick-backs from drug reps, medical equipment companies, and corporate conglomerates. They have become acclimated to six- and seven-figure incomes, preferential political treatment because of the financial contributions of the AMA to our ethical members of Congress, and the general perception that they are in an elitist strata relative to the rest of society. Frankly, the majority are egomaniacal, marginally competent, money grubbing dregs that have financially raped patients for years. Can you tell I have considerable sympathy for physicians?"

Medical student's perspective

We heard from many commenters talking about the grueling medical school regimen that all doctors must go through, and one comment from a student touched a nerve (no pun intended) with many others reading the forum.

Jason Feldman: "I'm a third year medical student in Arizona. Let me give you some figures:

"When I graduate my debt load will be close to $400,000. After interest and residency it will be closer to $500k+. The New Health Care Law requires us to get our student loans from the government now that charge higher than market interest rates. E.g. 10% of my loans are interest free, then about half of what is left is around 6.8% and the next half is around 7.5%. So when I am out and all is said and done, if I wanted to pay my loans off in 10 years that would amount to a $5,300 a month payment. Now take the average family doctor and say he makes $160k a year/$13k a month. Take out our 40% in tax (federal + state + Social Security + Medicaid) or more and we get $8,000 a month. Now take out the loans and we have $3,700 take-home essentially, equivalent to maybe a $60,000 a year job, which is not bad by all means ... Also factor in that we're trying to catch up on retirement since for the 10-12 years we're in school we put nothing in. In short, the cost of attending medical school now between lost income, benefits, and tuition is just under a million dollars. Oh, and all the interest we pay is not tax deductible. Am I complaining? No. I chose my career and I love what I do. But for everyone who thinks we're greedy and charge too much and live these lavish lifestyles, I think they're forgetting the eight years we spent in school, the five years we worked as residents for 80-120 hours a week and got paid $40,000 or $50,000 (roughly like 7 bucks an hour)."

Stitching it all together

We heard from a lot of folks saying that doctors have to take on a huge amount of risk, and who were frustrated with the insurance companies.

DTM03: "I am a surgeon. For those of you who think I make too much money, I would gladly give back my 20s for my modestly increased income. I have $170,000 in debt from medical school, I spent my 20s and early 30s in surgical residency working 100+ hours per week, I've missed every major holiday in my family to take care of the sickest patients in the greatest need. I love it. What I have never appreciated is how many people think that my sacrifices or skills do not deserve some level of compensation. I sometimes wonder if the general public realizes what it takes to become a physician. It is competitive and cutthroat. While we work through the training aspect of it, we have bankers, lawyers, and insurers lining up to see what they can take from us. I do wonder whether a nationalized health plan would be better than this current state. Your insurance company hates you. They want you to live a nice long, healthy life and die of a massive heart attack in your sleep. They certainly don't want you to get cancer, diabetes, or use any of the resources you've paid for."

That's my 12-year-old Chevy

Lots of the medically oriented commenters said they love what they do, but there are a lot of problems and hassles to deal with, and not everyone is superwealthy.

RationalDoc: "I am a board-certified internal medicine doctor in solo practice. I drive a 12-year-old Chevy. My next door neighbors are a fireman and a high school teacher. I struggle to pay my staff. But what I want people to know is that the governmnet is not the devil in this deal. I fight every day with Humana, Anthem, United Healthcare, etc. These Wall-Street-investor-driven for-profit companies have made practicing medicine miserable. Medicare is easy to work with by comparison. For whatever faults Medicare has, at least its heart is in the right place, and I can't say that about these for-profit companies who turn down coverage and make me fight on behalf of my patient to get a CT scan approved, all because they are trying to meet the high expectations of their shareholders. Look at your own 401(k). If you have shares in any for-profit health insurance companies, then YOU, not President Obama, are the problem."

Destination: Doctor

We did hear from a few commenters who said they were skeptical of the stories from the medical side of things. Some said doctors come to the United States to get more money.

Terry Chris: "This is a propaganda piece to elicit sympathy for doctors. American doctors are never unemployed and the highest-paid in the world. This is why America has so many foreign docs. The money is large and full-employment. I have four doctors in my family: two on my side and two on my wife's side. They are all rich."

But in Canada ...

One might even look to the health care in Canada and other countries to see how they're faring. We heard a lot of commenters talking about nationalized systems. Some love them, some hate them. Here's one comment. We'd love to hear your perspective on this, too.

ellaskin: "I am a specialist working in Ontario, Canada. My waiting list is three weeks. Urgent referrals are seen on the same day or next day. A single payer system is certainly not perfect, and taxes in Canada are high, however there are no physicians in Canada that I know of on the verge of bankruptcy, and it beats dealing with insurance companies or patients that won't pay up. The misconceptions about the health care system in Canada are unbelievable. Yes there are longer wait times than in certain areas of the U.S., and you may not be able to get an MRI just because you want one, but this is not medicine. If you need an MRI, you will get one even on the same day, if you need to be seen urgently you will be seen. If you have metastatic cancer, you will be treated with expensive chemotherapeutic agents at no cost to you or your family outside of your tax rate. Yes if you have a cold or thinning nails or knee pain, it will take longer for you to be seen and or treated, but no system is perfect. I agree with some of the previous comments. If for-profit insurance companies were taken out of the mix in the U.S., I truly believe physicians, their patients and everyone would be better off."

Lack of incentive

There is little incentive to take on the risk of the medical business or accept the payments from insurance companies, this father of a doctor says.

borealbob: "My son is an MD/Ph.D. and this story is true. Most docs will no longer go into private practice and/or accept Medicare/Medicaid. This issue goes far beyond graduating with $300K of debt. To run a medical office and give optimal care takes time and money. When you cannot even pay your bills, there is no incentive to killing yourself and punishing your family. You can drive a cab and make more money than primary care physicians. Something needs to be fixed and fast."

Uncertain futures

Many commenters said they think the current system is unsustainable.

voyager68: "For those of you on this blog who blithely comment that we (doctors) will have to make due by not buying a new Mercedes every year, I have some incredible news for you! Most of us don't drive a Mercedes or have two or three vacation homes. Yes, in general, we have incomes that are considered high but it was no easy task to achieve that. Four years of college, four years of medical school and then anywhere from three to eight years of post-medical school training and several more years in private practice before we make the 'big bucks.' On top of that, we have to make life-and-death decisions every day, take call every fourth or fifth night (usually for 24 hours straight) and carry enormous liability on top of all that. Most of us are not kicking back and placing the burden on underlings. As for the future of medicine, do the math. Our expenses (employee salaries, health care premiums, cost of meds, devices, malpractice insurance, etc.) keep going up and our remimbursements are stagnant or going down. Unlike a traditional small business, we can't raise the price of our services, because they are fixed by the government or insurance compaines. The future of medicine in this country is in greater jeopardy than it has ever been and I fear the quality of care will diminish significantly."

What do you think about these opinions? How would you fix the health care system? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Instant Karma

    @brightIdea:
    May you endure every ill, every broken bone, every accident, every pin, every injury, every ache and pain that this man has...x10. Karma has a special slap coming your way. Enjoy.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bigwilliestyles

    Every job has the same type of employees: conscientious, dedicated people who work hard, and lazy, clownish get over types that hardly work. To all the good doctors out there, thanks; to the rest of you life juggling pos: get bent, whatever you make.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hoping for a better answer

    8 years of studying like crazy (not to mention the years I spent in residency) to reach the goal of gaining an invaluable skill that can change peoples lives for the better. over $200,000 medical school debt not including interest at 6.8% (thanks federal government for 2X market interest) and denying myself travel, friends, and relationships. I lived on a $20 a day budget during med school trying to be my best for anyone and everyone that shows up to the hospital sick, dying, and alone. To your average healthy individual I'm over payed, but to the persons life that I save, they couldn't name a price for what I've given them back. I work over 80hours a week during my training and my job always follows me home in the countless hours of studying that I do and worrying about patient outcomes. Most of my college buddies make 2X to 3x what I make in the business world while getting to enjoy promotions, travel, and expense accounts. I pay insurance to cover false malpractice suits that is greater than the average salary of americans. I have to fight with insurance companies to actually pay me for doing my job. I didn't just do this for me though, I did this for you. For the person I've never met who will one day need a good and caring doctor that provides them with something that most people won't even give themselves...a fighting chance at being healthy. I've studied months at a time for exams that determine my future. My cost of going to medical school was 133% higher than the people before me and I'll never have the chance at making as much money as they did. The federal government no longer LOANS medical students $8,000/year interest free until they graduate. Keep in mind that we are facing a projected shortage of doctors in almost every field. I know countless stories of physicians that make less than high school teachers. It is a privilege to be trusted to care for another person, to treat people, to get to work directly with patients. Just like in any other job, doctors should be compensated too.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kelsey

    I am an junior in high school and am one day hoping to become a physician, but seeing the current turmoil over the way that physicians are paid, makes me rethink my decision. One of the main causes for me rethinking my decision is the result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This legislation has not resulted in any reduction in health care costs, but instead has caused a shifting of responsibility for who pays. Specifically, Congress is considering whether to reduce payments to doctors who accept Medicare eligible patients. If the government does not pay for the true costs of care under Medicare, then the private sector will be forced to pay. Fewer doctors are accepting Medicare patients, and more people are being left without the ability to seek proper care. Why would doctors accept Medicare, its just bad business. On top of that, 32% of Americans are overweight, increasing the need for care. My generation might actually be the frist generation to have a lower life expectancy than the generation before it. This is an unsustainable situation, and I'm not sure I want to put my future in the hands of government cost cutters.

    While my objectives for becoming a doctor are based on my desire to help others, I wonder if this profession survive the economic onslaught that threatens to destroy it. America is one of the few developed countries in the world that has the unenviable postion of being one of the lowest ranking countries in its ability to provide affordable and effective treatment to its citizens. Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions and the current inability of the Senate and Congress to accomplish anything, let alone deal with the healthcare provided to its citizens that is absolutely dismal.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • M. Smith

      Kelsey some people are overweight because of medical conditions or medications which can sometimes cause substantial weight gain. One of my medications made me gain over 40lbs in one year. I lost the weight once I stopped taking it and haven't gained weight like that since.

      January 6, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. THE ONE AND ONLY DRAKOREX1

    I BELIEVE IN KARMA ,THANKYOU KARMA AND THANKS TO THE GOOD DOCTORS I HAVE HAD...BUT TO THE GREEDY DONT GIVE A DA M DOCTORS THAT DONT CARE, TAKE THE TIME TO READ A CHART REMEMBER OUR NAMES AND TREAT THOSE THAT DEPEND ON YOU WITH RESPECT.YOU WORK FOR US WE DONT WORK FOR YOU

    January 5, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Kelsey:

    If students like you are our future, I don't see it quite as dismally as I did before I read your post.

    I wish you much luck in your future endeavors, and I suspect you'll go far, no matter what field you finally choose to make your living at.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. donimus

    Nobody should have to pay for health care NO ONE only in America. Our northern neighbors (Canada) figured that out years ago – Cuba the same and 90% of the countries in this World. Yet theres people out there in this country fighting Universal Health Care you can't be serious. And all these doctors on here writing in complaining about all your loans you have to pay and other costs – yall should be on the front line fighting for National Health Care and getting rid of these health insurers once and for all.
    One other thing in Cuba education is free like it should be here as well – they keep beating there chest talking bout we're the most powerful and richest country on Earth, please propaganda 101.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. donimus

    Tmade it so people have to choose between pao the specialist from Canada l think Ontario who posted earlier kudos to you – well said and your country should be proud of its National Health Care system it puts us to shame. Greed and corruption has made it such here people have to choose between paying their rent/mortgage or health care thats insanity and should never happen in a civilized society.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • fortunate physician

      @donimus:

      you are an idealist without any objective data to back up what it is that you claim to be fighting for. universal health care is a grand idea; no one disagrees with you on that. the bottom line is that medical training and licensure comes at a personal cost, which in almost all cases is not funded or subsidized by the government. we pay out of pocket, as other posters have indicated, at high interest rates, for our educations and training.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. donimus

    Sorry but my last post was butchered somehow l basically was issuing kudos to the specialist from Ontario Canada and that countrys health care system.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. THE ONE AND ONLY DRAKOREX1

    AND YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TO.DOCTORS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS SOLDIERS

    January 6, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe'"

    Doctor. Doctor. Give me the news. Got a bad case of lov'in you.

    January 6, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gold Dragon

    I have to have faith in my doctors. They are helping me to fight a hard battle to stay alive.
    My doctors have sacrificed alot of their young life to get the proper education and training to be the doctors they are today. I am very thankful for them and I really could care if they are rich. I have seen them sacrifice time away from their loving families, working long days and everyday. When I am in the hospital for periods of weeks at a tiime, I see them everyday. Doctors are important and people should realize what they do to keep their patients alive.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Up Front

    This is just more solid proof that there are some types of "business" that should be banned from being "for-profit" type businesses.

    Corporate law is showing itself to be obsolete, unworkable, and harmful to the public in many ways.

    It's time to prohibit certain types of corporate behavior, and curb all and any incentives for bad behavior.

    It's also time to change our "modern" business models to ban CEOs from receiving stock – in fact, the whole idea of the stock market has some fatal flaws, but until we deal with those, banning the CEOs from owning or receiving stock would be a very good first step.

    And we need a much larger minimum wage.
    And lower housing costs.

    And jobs.
    We need jobs that pay enough for anyone entering the work force to live on.
    Minimum wage does not do that after the massive inflation we've had in the past 12 years.

    And at the back of all this is corruption.
    Corruption in our government is bad enough without it being caused by billionaires seeking the ability to commit crimes without any "regulation" or anything like that getting in their way.

    They can pay for any law they want.
    We have no representation in our government.
    Soon they won't need our useless votes either.
    All it takes is money and people willing to do bad things to get it.

    Until you address that you won't make much of a dent in any of these problems.

    We live in a police state run by corporate thugs.
    They can do anything, kill anyone, rob and steal, cheat and swindle, and always get away with it because of money, corruption, bribery, and how things are set up to work that way these days.

    They've stolen several TRILLION dollars from the public in just the last twelve years.

    Until we return to the rule of law, things will only get worse.
    A revolution is needed, and not just in health care.
    I don't any problem with specialists receiving a special premium wage for their special contribution to any field.
    I have a problem with the upside-down thinking of so many people.

    Some people should simply NOT be allowed certain positions in the public or private sphere.
    It's harsh, but that's how it's going to have to be in the end,....
    ...because at some point – everyone could die because of these clearly FAILED "policies" used in our "modern" world.
    ...And not just because of the health industry.
    There are other industries, other professions that also need massive corrections to be made.
    When will they ever be fixed? As long as they aren't fixed, there is little point in trying to survive anyway, right?
    That should save some health costs right there.

    January 6, 2012 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dan M

    This is just more solid proof that there are some types of "business" that should be banned from being "for-profit" type businesses.

    Corporate law is showing itself to be obsolete, unworkable, and harmful to the public in many ways.

    It's time to prohibit certain types of corporate behavior, and curb all and any incentives for bad behavior.

    It's also time to change our "modern" business models to ban CEOs from receiving stock – in fact, the whole idea of the stock market has some fatal flaws, but until we deal with those, banning the CEOs from owning or receiving stock would be a very good first step.

    And we need a much larger minimum wage.
    And lower housing costs.

    And jobs.
    We need jobs that pay enough for anyone entering the work force to live on.
    Minimum wage does not do that after the massive inflation we've had in the past 12 years.

    And at the back of all this is corruption.
    Corruption in our government is bad enough without it being caused by billionaires seeking the ability to commit crimes without any "regulation" or anything like that getting in their way.

    They can pay for any law they want.
    We have no representation in our government.
    Soon they won't need our useless votes either.
    All it takes is money and people willing to do bad things to get it.

    Until you address that you won't make much of a dent in any of these problems.

    We live in a police state run by corporate thugs.
    They can do anything, kill anyone, rob and steal, cheat and swindle, and always get away with it because of money, corruption, bribery, and how things are set up to work that way these days.

    They've stolen several TRILLION dollars from the public in just the last twelve years.

    Until we return to the rule of law, things will only get worse.
    A revolution is needed, and not just in health care.
    I don't any problem with specialists receiving a special premium wage for their special contribution to any field.
    I have a problem with the upside-down thinking of so many people.

    Some people should simply NOT be allowed certain positions in the public or private sphere.
    It's harsh, but that's how it's going to have to be in the end,....
    ...because at some point – everyone could die because of these clearly FAILED "policies" used in our "modern" world.
    ...And not just because of the health industry.
    There are other industries, other professions that also need massive corrections to be made.
    When will they ever be fixed? As long as they aren't fixed, there is little point in trying to survive anyway, right?
    That should save some health costs right there, right?

    January 6, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Karol

    Reposted From an earlier post by Dr. Barth and eloquently stated:

    Since I am quoted liberally throughout the article written by Ms. Parija Kavilanz, I would like to take the opportunity to set the record straight. The title and the perspective of the article "Doctors Going Broke" is both disingenuous and misrepresents my conversation with the author. I am a practicing cancer doctor for 30 years and have been honored to serve my community and my hospital in every capacity possible including 9 years as a medical staff leader. My understanding of the intended content of this article was an expose' of the challenges many dedicated medical providers are facing in a difficult economic climate to care for their patients the way they absolutely would love to do, because the cost of providing patient-centric, high value medicine is simply not covering the costs to deliver that care. Hence, many physicians are continuing to subsidize patient care to their own economic detriment. Many are embarrassed to admit their economic failures. This is not because doctors are inept businessmen, but often they are so passionate about what they are trying to do for their patients, that they accept economic risk and overextend their resources for patients in need.

    'Healthcare' is the complex web of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and other vendor businesses that ride on the back of the physician license. Conversely, 'Medicine' is the sanctified relationship between a physician and a patient. U.S. Healthcare is a broken and inefficient system and its reimbursement policies does not promote optimum value for patients. U.S. Medicine on the other hand is alive and delivered daily by good people.

    Frankly in a climate where many people are unemployed, have lost their homes and are unable to care for their families, most would not really care whether doctors are going broke. But because many doctors are unable to sustain the economic burden of their practices, they are leaving medicine and consequently deserving patients may be denied access to needed care. That is the real story that needs to be understood by the public.

    Healthcare reform has begun and will continue because it has to find a sustainable footing, regardless of irresponsible politics. U.S. Doctors have the opportunity to help re-engineer healthcare if they show leadership and speak with the voice of their patients. In addition,the public must demand accountability from congress that will insure an accessible, value based, economically viable and sustainable healthcare system that will continue to deliver great 'medicine'.
    I spoke to this author in the hope that a thoughtful and socially responsible piece would be written. I would only hope that this comment will strike a truer cord with all us who have a stake in the viability of our healthcare systemshow more

    January 6, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
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