Should we pay American doctors less money?

That’s a sensitive topic that progressive reformers often bring up as one way to control health spending.

Over at Slate, Christopher Beam takes a balanced look at the issue. He acknowledges that, yes, American physicians get paid proportionally more than the average employee when compared to other countries.

But that should always come with the caveat that other countries, like Great Britain and France, heavily subsidize medical education, while the average American medical student graduates with debt in excess of $150,000. Furthermore, the cost of medical malpractice insurance is significantly more fiscally burdensome for doctors Stateside.

Listen to Princeton’s Uwe Reinhardt, a favorite economist of health reformers, who says, “doctors’ take-home pay (that is, income minus expenses) amounts to only about 1 percent of overall health care spending, or about $26 billion. That’s a drop in the ocean compared with overhead for insurance companies, billing expenses for doctors’ offices, and advertising for drug companies. The real savings in health care will come from these expenses.”

Indeed.

By the way, thanks to Mr. Beam for including a quote and link from yours truly.

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