Patients’ Costs Skyrocket; Specialists’ Incomes Soar — The New York Times

As part of the ‘Paying Till It Hurts’ series, Elisabeth Rosenthal reports: “Many specialists have become particularly adept at the business of medicine by becoming more entrepreneurial…and most of all, increasing revenues by offering new procedures — or doing more of lucrative ones. It does not matter if the procedure is big or small, learned in a decade of training or a weeklong course. In fact, minor procedures typically offer the best return on investment: A cardiac surgeon can perform only a couple of bypass operations a day, but other specialists can perform a dozen procedures in that time span. That math explains why the incomes of dermatologists, gastroenterologists and oncologists rose 50 percent or more between 1995 and 2012, even when adjusted for inflation, while those for primary care physicians rose only 10 percent…In addition, salary figures often understate physician earning power since they often do not include revenue from business activities…Doctors’ charges — and the incentives they reflect — are a major factor in the nation’s $2.7 trillion medical bill. Payments to doctors in the United States…account for 20 percent of American health care expenses, second only to hospital costs.” Courtesy of

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