Patients do not want their doctors paid on salary

One question that occasionally comes up is whether doctors should be paid a flat salary or not.

Currently, the majority of physicians are paid fee-for-service, meaning that the more procedures or office visits they do, the better they are reimbursed. This, of course, gives a financial incentive to do more, without regard to quality or patient outcomes.

One proposed solution is simply to pay doctors a flat salary, with bonuses for better patient outcomes.

Well, according to a recent Kaiser/NPR poll, that idea is a no-go for patients. 70 percent of patients think its better that a “doctor gets paid each time they see you,” while only 25 percent think a yearly salary is better.

As an aside, I find it interesting that any public poll result that goes against the progressive health policy agenda is considered a “weak opinion,” but really, this isn’t a surprising result.

Economist Uwe Reinhardt hinted at the cause when he said that most Americans believe “that they have a perfect right to highly expensive, critically needed health care, even when they cannot pay for it.”

Perhaps the public believes that a salary is similar to the capitation debacle in the 1990s, where doctors were paid a fixed fee, which gave them an incentive to deny care. And any perceived attempt to restrict care will be met with visceral opposition by the American public.

Which again shows how difficult it will be to engage patients with any dialogue that involves cost control.

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