Why do health policy experts and wonks hate doctors?

Health policy experts have never been shy about their antagonism towards doctors.

The focus now appears to be on physician pay, with the Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein, for one, continuing his anti-physician columns. Derek Thompson, over at The Atlantic (via @AllergyNotes), continues the assault, with a recent blog entry wondering if doctors deserve to be paid less.

I touched upon this topic last year, in a USA Today op-ed, Doctors’ pay cuts save little in health care costs, and paraphrased prominent Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt saying that cutting physician pay 20 percent will only result in 2 percent of health care savings. And besides, if the current system stays in place, doctors whose pay is cut will simply respond by doing more procedures.

Furthermore, many health policy experts bring out the tired statistic comparing American physician salaries with those abroad. The problem is that these are not apples-to-apples comparisons. Both the cost of medical school and malpractice insurance are exponentially higher Stateside. Fully subsidize medical school and bring malpractice premiums down to the levels of other countries first, before talking about tackling doctors’ pay.

Until then, comparing physician salaries with those in Europe is a largely meaningless exercise, and only serves to expose many health wonks’ innate contempt for the medical profession.

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