Your Opinion: Response to doctor on health care

Dear Editor:

A doctor friend took exception to my letter on Medicare published here July 1. As I understood it, he took it personally that I stated that doctors make twice as much as doctors in other countries but that our health care is rated only 37th in terms of health care delivery.

Actually I said American health care was twice as expensive as any other country. I did not state that doctor’s salaries were double but they are definitely higher. The health care numbers come from data found in the Organization of Economic and Cooperative Development. America is one of 31 industrialized countries who are members. The Bureau of Labor statistics does show an average income for Missouri doctors of $175,000. Certain specialties can earn as much as $500,000 per year.

The American physician system is a fee for services system. That means the more the doctor works the more he makes. In a way that would be like a factory worker was being paid by the amount of product they produce. Except, doctors have some control over the number of hours they work. They work long and hard hours but are rewarded for that.

It is important to realize that our medical services are not generally deficient. The reason American medicine is ranked low on delivery is because the service is treated as a commodity. Millions of Americans have been priced out of the market. For those actually receiving services, I suspect the quality is on par with the rest of the world.

The Affordable Health Care Act has addressed the delivery issue and will cover millions of additional citizens. Everyone is to obtain insurance from an insurance exchange if they are presently not covered. Those who cannot afford this insurance will be assisted by the government.

This is a boon for the insurance companies and helps hospitals who today pass on emergency care costs to those of us with insurance. Some Americans do not accept health care as a right. They believe it is a moral failing to not be able to buy health care and you should accept the consequences.

The AMA and other doctor lobby groups have done a good job of limiting medical school admittance and keeping out foreign competition. You might have to compete with Chinese labor but doctors are protected.

Doctors did not design our system but benefit from it. It’s a crazy system.

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