Who wins the salary competition and why:
. . . society perceived that the pricing mechanism for doctors’ services was broken. That is, if the free market set the price, many citizens would not be able to afford to pay. And society believes implicitly that health care should be widely available to citizens. (That doesn’t mean everybody. 40 million Americans are not covered by health insurance but many of them can get care at hospital emergency rooms.)
But given the perception of a broken pricing system, government and managed care organizations intervened. Thus, if a doctor takes patients who do not directly pay their own bills — but rely on Medicare, Medicaid, or an HMO — then the price for that service is set by someone other than the doctor.
(via The Medical Quack)